AFTER two rounds of elimination play and a complete field of eight, competition in Season 79 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball is down to four teams with the semifinals about to begin this week.
Left standing to further their campaign are the De La Salle Green Archers (13-1), Ateneo Blue Eagles (10-4), Far Eastern University Tamaraws (9-5) and Adamson Soaring Falcons (8-6).
The Archers will face the Falcons while the Eagles battle the Tamaraws in the Final Four with La Salle and Ateneo holding twice-to-beat advantages.
But apart from winding up with the top four best records in the elimination round, further underscoring the four teams’ spots in the semifinals was how they performed as a team and individually, through the players, as seen in key statistics during the classification phase.
La Salle, Adamson and Ateneo boasted of the three best offense in the league, averaging 88.1, 72.2 and 72.1 points, respectively, in 14 games.
FEU averaged 66.2 points per game in the eliminations, good for seventh place, but was the top defensive team, allowing just 65.1 points to opponents. Ateneo was second with 66.4 points followed by Adamson with 68 points. La Salle was fifth with 73 points allowed.
La Salle big man Ben Mbala, who is expected to run away with the most valuable player award, was the top offensive force in the league with a 20.6-point average followed at second by teammate Jeron Teng (16.9 points).
Adamson’s Papi Sarr and Jerrick Ahanmisi were sixth and seventh, respectively, with averages of 14.4 and 13.4 points. FEU’s Raymar Jose was the 10th best scorer in the league with 11.1 points.
Mbala was also tops in rebounds with 16 boards per game followed by Sarr with 14.9 rebounds and Jose 11.
Tamaraw import Prince Orizu was fifth in rebounding with 9.8 while Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena was seventh with 7.8 boards.
La Salle players were also the leaders in assists, steals and blocks.
Archers guard Kib Montalbo paced the league in assists and steals with three dimes and three swipes per game.
Adamson’s Robbie Manalang was second in assists with 2.9 while FEU’s Wendell Comboy (2.5) and Ateneo’s Ravena (2.3) were in the top 10.
Mbala was number four in steals with 1.4 swipes. Ron Dennison (1.2) of FEU and Manalang (1) were seventh and eighth, respectively, in the department.
Top shot blocker was Mbala with 2.5 swats. Orizu (1.7) was second, La Salle rookie Justine Baltazar was fifth with 1.1 and Sarr sixth with one block a game.
The Final Four of UAAP Season 79 begins on Wednesday with the La Salle-Adamson pairing at the Mall of Asia Arena.