Mike Nieto says he also felt it when Mbala’s elbow hit Matt
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 25, 2017 08:33 PM
TWINNING. Mike Nieto just proved he got the back of his twin Matt.
Was Ben Mbala’s left elbow hitting Matt Nieto’s right eyebrow intentional?
Nieto is not sure. “Siguro? I don’t know. Siguro, he’s just too tall so sakto yung elbow niya sa face ko,” he told reporters.
For twin Mike, however, De La Salle University’s Cameroonian powerhouse did not intend what happened to happen. “Hindi naman sinasadya ni Ben,” he said.
Still, that doesn’t mean that Mbala’s elbow did not hurt.
That was very much evident for Mike who wasn’t even on the floor. “Nung nahulog si Matt, nung nasiko siya ni Ben, kung makikita niyo sa video, I threw (my) towel on the floor kasi parang nasaktan din ako nung natamaan si Matt. I didn’t want to see my brother na masaktan,” he said.
And so, the 19-year-old told his twin he got his back. “Sabi ko, ‘Matt, ibabawi kita.’ Yun lang sinabi ko sa kanya, pero ‘di ko alam kung narinig niya kasi nakapikit siya nun e,” he said.
He then continued, “And I told my mom, kasi gusto na niyang umiyak noon, at si dad, na ibabawi ko si Matt.”
Whatever it was, Nieto said returning the exact same favor to Mbala, or any other Green Archer, was never on his mind. “I got motivated talaga, but I realized I won’t retaliate by hurting La Salle. Wala e, there’s no sense in doing that kasi it’s Finals na. I just had to step up,” he said.
Indeed, it was “Big Mike,” he of the seven points per game average, who took charge in what turned out to be the pivotal push bridging the third and fourth. He had an 11-point outburst in the 13-2 run that erased a one-point deficit and erected a 69-59 advantage.
“Luckily, my shots went it. Yung mga points ko naman, hindi naman galing sa isolation,” he said afterward. “(My teammates) found me and I just wanted to get that ball so bad kasi gusto kong bumawi for Matt.”
That lead would stay with the Blue Eagles and eventually ended up as a 76-70 win.
For the third-year forward, it was all for his brother. “Ayaw ko lang talagang nasasaktan yung kapatid ko. Grabe yung naramdaman ko nung nakita ko yung dugo kay Matt,” he shared.
He then continued, “Kaya I got really motivated, I felt I really needed to step up.”
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.