Mbala says DLSU not the defensive-minded team it was last year

Mbala says DLSU not the defensive team it was last year
MISSING: MAYHEM. Ben Mbala says DLSU's defense will be sure to shape up sooner than later.

For the first time in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Ben Mbala did not breach the 30-point marker last Sunday.

The reigning and defending MVP only had, for his standards, 18 points, 13 rebounds, one block, one steal to go along with four turnovers as he and De La Salle University fell to their archrival Ateneo de Manila University.

In the three games prior, he had per game counts of 33.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals to go along with four turnovers.

For Mbala himself, however, his decrease in scoring would have come sooner than later. “I was expecting that. I was getting double and triple-teamed so I had to find a way to pass it to my wide open teammates,” he told reporters.

He then continued, “Unluckily, my teammates were unable to knock down their shots. But it’s all part of the game.”

Indeed, the Taft-based team could have used more makes from Andrei Caracut who only had five points in 2-for-8 shooting and Kib Montalbo who only had three points in 1-for-8 shooting as well as the presence of still recovering scoring dynamo Aljun Melecio.

Still, easy points have come to be expected from their famed “mayhem,” but were missing up against their archrivals – and actually, have been missing for quite some time now.

The good news is that, according to Mbala, DLSU is well aware of that room for improvement. Asked what they have to improve upon to better their 5-2 standing, he answered, “I say defense. We’re not the defensive-minded team we used to be last year and that’s something we need to change.”

A year ago in their championship run, the Green Archers ranked first in steals (8.1), blocks (4.5), and turnover points (24.2); second in turnovers forced (24.9); and fifth in points allowed (71.9).

After the first round in this season, they are ranked fourth in steals (6.9), third in blocks (3.4), third in turnovers forced (20.4); and seventh in points allowed (90.3). They remain first in turnover points (20.7).

The even better news, however, is that it is only the midway mark of the tournament and, without a doubt, the defending champions will only be better. As their Cameroonian powerhouse put it, “It’s only the first round and we still have a lot of time to work on our team chemistry especially on defense.”

He then continued, “I’m sure coach and all of us players will be able to work on that.”

Team captain Montalbo echoed the sentiment with a simple one of his own. “We’ll bounce back harder, for sure,” he expressed.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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