In redemption win, 6-foot-7 small forward Mbala shuts down Desiderio
MANILA, Philippines - The upset of the season came in early when the UP Fighting Maroons gave the defending champion DLSU Green Archers their first loss of the season just halfway through the first round.
Since their last meeting, however, UP has fallen far behind the standings race with little to no momentum to show for it. It was the perfect opportunity for La Salle to get some sweet revenge. And sweet revenge they achieved, as the Archers shot down the Maroons with a huge 85-62 redemption win, Sunday, October 15. Clearly, the champs planned and adjusted well, and they had the perfect weapon hiding in the wings.
Yes of course, that weapon is Ben Mbala. But this time, the Archers played the 6-foot-7 monster as the starting small forward to guard struggling UP star Paul Desiderio. Their secret weapon was literally...a wing.
When the dust settled, Mbala came out standing tall in the small forward battle, as 6-foot-1 Desiderio only managed 7 points on 2/13 (15%) shooting. His only field goals were both threes when Mbala was resting. In comparison, the versatile reigning and runaway repeat MVP had 27 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in just 28 minutes of play.
“We had a game plan and I just had to stick to the game plan,” said Mbala. “Knowing that I’m bigger than [Desiderio] I just had to stick in front of him. Even I get blown by, I’m bigger, I’m faster – I can recover and go for the block and that’s what I was able to do today.”
“It’s part of basketball, to be able to adjust,” he added after being asked how he reacted to Desiderio guarding him back. “If you can use me as a 3 (small forward), you can use him as a 4 (power forward). You just have to find a way to keep playing.”
With Adamson and Papi Sarr being Mbala’s next opponent, Coach Aldin Ayo would most likely switch him back to the center position. That game is then followed by NU, led by star forward-guard JayJay Alejandro.
Looks like we have not seen the last of the league’s tallest small forward. – Rappler.com