Putting Mbala on Desiderio: Defensive Gamble Paid Off

When the De La Salle Green Archers faced the UP Fighting Maroons last Sunday, they knew that they had to do something different if they are to get back at this team for beating them in the first round. The key was to shut down UP’s outside game and one particular player they need to tighten their defense on is their leading scorer Paul Desiderio. In their previous match, Desiderio exploded for 30 points on 6-of-10 shooting from three-point range.

In a bold move, Coach Aldin Ayo decided to put Ben Mbala on Desiderio in this game. Despite standing 6’7, Ben has shown to have the quickness to keep in step with smaller players. In fact, in their game two weeks ago against Ateneo, Ben was guarding the ball carrier outside the paint on several occasions.

The strategy of Ben sliding to the wing proved effective. Desiderio struggled offensively and on the other end had the unenviable task of guarding the reigning UAAP MVP. Mbala finished the game with 27 points and 14 rebounds while Desiderio had a season-low 7 points making just 2 of his 13 field goal attempts. La Salle in turn was able to put a taller line-up on the floor by fielding in either Abu Tratter or Justine Baltazar in the middle thus creating more match-up problems for the Maroons.

The focus on guarding the opposition’s top gun was a challenge Ben gladly accepted.

I’m bigger than him (Desiderio), I just have to stay in front of him even if I got blown by. I’m bigger and faster, I can cover him. And that’s what I was able to do today,” – Spin.ph