Ateneo's game plan on Mbala integral part of Game 1 victory
Philip Matel on Nov 25, 2017 09:04 PM
The Ateneo Blue Eagles are one win away from the UAAP Men's Basketball title because of their great defense on league MVP Ben Mbala, who was held to just eight points.
Just what like Ateneo Blue Eagles coach Sandy Arespacochaga mentioned after the victory against the FEU Tamaraws, the Blue Eagles delivered by stopping league MVP Ben Mbala, leading to the 76-70 win over the De La Salle Green Archers in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball finals.
Arespacochaga reiterated the team’s plan of stopping the soon-to-be two-time MVP with a concerted effort from the team, reflecting his previous statement.
“We came from our last game in Wednesday, we couldn't do anything live and it was something mainly mental,” Arespacochaga said after the game.
With the team's defensive game plan centered around Mbala, who averaged 26.1 points and 13.2 rebounds a game in the elimination round for the Green Archers, Ateneo held him to a career-low eight points on 3/7 shooting.
Though they were not able to go through the defensive scheme in a five-on-five practice since they only had two days to prepare, video review of the La Salle games and following newly-formulated diagrams on the board were enough to stifle the towering 6’8 Cameroonian.
“It wasn't easy, definitely. Our players would be sore later and for sure tomorrow. Like what Matt [Nieto] said earlier, we know it's not going to be easy, but we know we are ready to do what's needed to come up with the win.”
Mbala meanwhile praised the Ateneo defense, but assures he and the team will be able to bounce back and play through the game.
“They just made sure that they would make me score my lowest scoring output ever. That's what they were able to do. You all guys saw it. My team struggled early without me without being able to help them on the offensive side.”