As reported a few weeks ago, La Salle center and reigning UAAP MVP Ben Mbala will miss at least the first two games of the Green Archers in the upcoming season which starts this weekend. Mbala will be playing for his home country Cameroon in the FIBA Afrobasket starting September 8 in Tunisia.
Without Ben in the last few publicized preseason games, the team struggled as they lost to a local team in Iloilo while sneaking past UST in Davao. Though their last game in Davao against FEU was stopped in the 3rd period due to a bench-clearing brawl, it was evident that they definitely missed Mbala’s presence down low as they trailed the Tamaraws all throughout the match.
The Green Archers will face FEU in their season opener this Sunday. With team captain Kib Montalbo likely to miss this game as well due to sickness, the coaching staff would need to dig deep from from their bag of tricks to get the win.
In a short tournament like the UAAP, every game matters and the possibility of going 0-2 to start your title retention bid is never a good thing. But this is something the team needs to deal with in a positive way. May this serve as a challenge to them and prove that their success is not just because they have Ben onbooard and they can still remain competitive without him. Let’s hope the rest of the team would step up and pick up the cudgels while he is away.
Head coach Aldin Ayo chooses to look at the situation in a different light
Though Ayo admitted that losing Mbala will be a big blow, the outspoken mentor knows that this move would benefit La Salle in the long run.
Playing against men his size or bigger will definitely strengthen Ben Mbala as he heads back into the tournament where it’s actually hard to find someone who can match up with him.
“Of course he’s going to learn new things and improve. That’s the very purpose why he went there as an individual and as a player,” Ayo continued.
“May setback sa amin kasi wala siya, pero for sure pagbalik niya, he’ll be a better player, a better Ben.”
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Mbala said he has been adjusting well in playing the small forward position with the national team and has been taking a lot of three-point shots.
How is La Salle's big man @benmbala gearing up for both the UAAP and the 2017 FIBA Afrobasket? https://t.co/KQAZeOgPlV pic.twitter.com/67VIqq3F4r
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) September 6, 2017
In fact, Ben has been working on his outside game since last summer. Just imagine him making those three-balls consistently and add that to his already impressive inside play.
IG: @benmbala converts a three-pointer off the pick and pop with Gabe Capacio. | via https://t.co/qtSgwOHwGW pic.twitter.com/BKf7ml5KSH
— The LaSallian (@TheLaSallian) May 21, 2017
That’s damn scary.