Ben Mbala, the reigning and defending UAAP MVP, is now an even better version of himself after a starmaking stint in the 2017 FIBA Afrobasket.
And so, when the Cameroonian powerhouse made his way back to the collegiate ranks, he looked much, much more like a man among boys.
He dropped a UAAP-best 32 points on top of 10 rebounds, four blocks, and one steal in his first game since the regional meet.
This, coming against an Adamson University frontline that had the likes of Papi Sarr, Kristian Bernardo, and Keith Zaldivar.
After the game, Green Archers mentor Aldin Ayo was not at all surprised with the monster numbers by Mbala. “Well, as expected. Us, his coaches and his teammates, we were expecting na ganito ang ilalaro niya,” he said.
He then continued, “Kahit naman kayo, alam niyong ganun gagawin ni Ben.”
That is especially true as the 22-year-old displayed all of his wares up against the best Africa had to offer and averaged 21.8 points and 9.3 rebounds through his home country’s quarterfinals finish. “We know that when Ben was away, we have gained a lot as a team and Ben also gained a lot as an individual,” Ayo expressed.
Indeed, Mbala said he only improved in international play. As he put it, “The guy there are pros, some of them are ex-NBA players. They’re smart, they’re skilled, and their basketball IQ is really high.”
He then continued, “You gotta find a way to match up and compete and I’d like to say that I was able to learn a lot from them.”
Specifically, the six-foot-seven player pointed to his much-improved shooting stroke. “I also added a lot to my game, not only my inside game, but also my outside game. Actually, I was really working on it even during offseason,” he shared.
He then continued, “I just feel like I needed the confidence to be able to take them and make them.”
Without a doubt, Mbala now seems to have the confidence as he took four triples against the Soaring Falcons and made two of them.
It also didn’t hurt that Ayo prepared his team well for the inevitable return of their main man. “Ako, as much as possible, hindi ko ginalaw yung team noong nawala siya. If you noticed, right away we put him back in the starting five para dire-diretso,” he said.
He then continued, “I told the boys to act as if nothing happened, act as if Ben never left, act as if we played with Ben.”
And now they’re complete, DLSU is nothing but determined to re-assert their mastery over the rest of the league. “What’s good is that Ben is here and we can start moving forward, we can start working on our team chemistry,” the head coach expressed.
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