Player of the Week Mbala did it all for DLSU to beat Ateneo
De La Salle University's Ben Mbala wouldn't just let archrival Ateneo de Manila University through the express lane.
Scoring 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting on top of 19 rebounds, six steals, and six blocks, the reigning MVP helped the Green Archers reign supreme, 79-76, and halt the Blue Eagles' bid for a 14-0 elimination sweep.
Dominant on both ends of the court, Mbala was able to snag the last Chooks-to-Go UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week recognition, besting University of the Philippines captain Paul Desiderio, University of Sto. Tomas slotman Steve Akomo, and Far Eastern University sniper Arvin Tolentino for the weekly individual award.
The Cameroonian bruiser’s worth for DLSU couldn’t be more overstated as he kept the ship afloat even after falling behind by as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter and by seven, 69-76, in the final 2:24.
"We just wanted to win. We didn't quit. Coach told us, never give up," he said.
With heas coach Aldin Ayo fuming on the bench, Mbala and the rest of the Green Archers got down to work and finally solved the puzzle that was the Blue Eagles as they staged a killer 10-0 finishing kick before Mbala delivered the exclamation point — a game-saving defensive stop on Isaac Go with 10 seconds left on the clock.
"Coach told me to never quit on defense, to just always be there and try your best to give him the hardest shot he can have and that's what I tried my best to do,” he said. “He told me to stay composed and not overdo everything. I was trying to jump straight up and that's the only thing I was able to do, because if I foul him, that would have been two easy free throws.”
Mbala’s herculean efforts allowed the defending champions to sweep the second round and wind up with a 12-2 slate.
The Green Archers, armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, now proceed to the Final Four where they meet third-seed Adamson University once again on Saturday..
"That's the plan to do for the next few games: to play hard and leave the rest to God," he said.