Former SWU cager Ben Mbala of La Salle eager to exact revenge against rivals
Runaway MVP Ben Mbala of the La Salle Green Archers has not forgotten what the Ateneo Blue Eagles did to him and the rest of his team in the second round.
And that is why he expects to come out and play the kind of game that has made him the most dominant player in the UAAP today, when the Archers meet their long-time rivals for Game 1 of the Finals on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Archers were riding high on the crest of a 12-game winning streak and were gunning for a sweep of the elimination round, which would have given them an automatic spot in the finals. But the Blue Eagles stopped La Salle dead in its tracks with an 83-71 victory.
That loss was not lost on the former Southwestern University (SWU) King Cobra, who emphasized that they must play better on both ends of the floor in order to stymie Ateneo, which is coming off a thrilling 69-68 win over the defending champions Far Eastern University.
“We have to play better defense and we have to execute on offense,” Mbala, who averaged 20.6 points, 16.0 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks — all best in the league — said.
The 6-foot-8 Cameroonian added that he understands the pomp and pageantry as well as the pressure that comes with every clash against Ateneo, but said that the best way to handle all that is just to focus on the game at hand.
“I will just go out there and play my game. After all, it is still a game and I think the team is mentally and physically prepared for whatever will come to us,” Mbala said.
During their second round match-up against the Blue Eagles, Mbala still managed 17 points and 15 rebounds but turned the ball over seven times.
He vowed to do better in the Finals. “The key for me will be good execution of our mayhem defense and teamwork.”