How do you stop Desiderio? Make Mbala defend him

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 15, 2017 08:49 PM
How do you stop Desiderio? Make Mbala defend him
ADJUSTMENT. With Ben Mbala all over him, Paul Desiderio was unable to breach the double-digit marker in scoring.

Paul Desiderio dropped a career-high 30 points to lead University of the Philippines to its biggest win in over a decade at the expense of defending champion De La Salle University.

That, along with a perfect game by the Fighting Maroons, led to a 98-87 shocker of the win in the first round of the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

And so, when the defending champions prepared for their second round meeting, they had their sights set on one thing. “First round, he scored a career-high so that was really our priority – to shut down Paul in this game,” assistant coach Mark Balderrama told reporters.

Balderrama was speaking in behalf of head coach Aldin Ayo who was yet again unavailable for interviews.

To make good on their game plan, the Green Archers gave the tough task to one of their best, if not the best, defenders. “We think the best defender who can do that is Ben,” Balderrama said.

That is exactly why, to the surprise of just about everybody, since the very start of the game, the six-foot-seven Cameroonian was guarding the six-foot-flat Cebuano.

And throughout the game, Mbala imposed his will on Desiderio who only had a season-low seven points in 2-of-13 shooting. “We had a game plan and I just had to stick to the game plan. I’m bigger than him so I just have to stay in front of him,” he shared.

He then continued, “Even if I get blown by, I’m bigger and faster, I can still recover.”

At the other end, the reigning and defending MVP also punished the King Maroon who was forced to match up with him as well. “I didn’t expect that cause I was expecting a big guy to be on me. Well, it’s part of basketball so you got to be able to adjust,” he said.

Adjust, he did and feasted on Desiderio and anybody else thrown at him to the tune of 27 points, 14 rebounds, and three assists.

And at the end of it all, DLSU got the better of UP just as Mbala got the better of Desiderio.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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