OPINION: Nababahala kay Mbala? UAAP teams prepare to face a ‘Beast’

Gerry Plaza on May 11, 2016 06:41 PM
Nababahala kay Mbala? UAAP teams prepare to face a ‘Beast’
BIG BEN. Ben Mbala is here, and the other UAAP schools should take notice

While the entry of Benoit “Big Ben” Mbala into the De La Salle Green Archers lineup has been long overdue, we were pretty anxious about how this Cameroonian recruit will fare on court.

We pretty much got a glimpse of that in La Salle’s first two games in the ongoing FilOil Preseason Premier Cup. And we were bamboozled, stunned, flabbergasted, and to all the other UAAP coaches watching in awe: a sure bit of concern and fear.

This guy, fondly called as the Beast, is something else. Mbala is not only a superb scorer, who either barrels his way through solid defensive walls in the paint or make that impressive short or midrange jumper, he dominates the boards with his 6’7 monstrosity and swats balls from the offensive end like flies.

Yes, his most formidable arsenal is his all-around game, consistently delivering double-doubles in the Archers’ victories against fellow UAAP teams Adamson Falcons (13 points, 10 rebounds) and UE Red Warriors (24 points, 15 rebounds).

But what’s even more ominous for its upcoming UAAP opposition, and even the current lineup of competing schools from both the NCAA and the UAAP in the FilOil Cup, is that he fits well in La Salle’s deep bench of prolific performers, such as Jeron Teng, Thomas Torres, Prince Rivero, Kib Montalbo, Andrei Curacut, J-boy Gob, and his upcoming on-court “bruise brother” Abu Tratter. This is due to his being apparently well-adjusted to solid, forceful and relentless system of new coach Aldin Ayo, focusing primarily on tenacious team defense throughout the entire stretch of the court. With his imposing hulky frame and defensive skills, their opponents’ offensive concentration and execution could be tough.

Ayo’s entrance also came at the right time when Mbala’s one season suspension for playing in an exhibition game in General Santos City in 2014 that violated league rules on serving residency ended. It seems they are a perfect match in delivering the goods for La Salle, now incredibly clear as a title contender this season.

But what can stop Mbala in his surge come the UAAP wars? Just like coach Aldin’s philosophy, it seems only merciless team defense, especially in the paint where he shifts, pounds and scores gracefully without letup. Alternating help defense is definitely a massive to-do, given how a screen and roll or a simple drive to the basket seems like a walk in the park for Mbala.

Rotation is also key as Mbala can easily kick it out to Teng and Curacut, who can just explode anytime with their long range bombs. And of course, a fearless, no-surrender attitude, especially to the player guarding him, is necessary to pester him and not be intimidated.

I’m sure coaches of the UAAP teams are closely watching this FilOil wars to get more notes and devise strategies to stop an impending Archer romp.

But for La Salle and, surely, Mbala, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

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