SOUTHWESTERN University could have pulled the rug from under Ateneo in the Filoil Flying V Pre-Season Premier Cup if only big man Ben Mbala is still with the team.
SWU deputy coach Mike Reyes made the assessment in the aftermath of the Cebu-based school’s 72-77 loss at the hands of the five-time defending UAAP men’s cage champions at the start of the annual summer tournament Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.
“Definitely iba ang outcome if (Ben) Mbala was there,” said Reyes. “He has been with us for a year, alam na niya ang system.”
Mbala, who steered SWU to a Cesafi title and an impressive finish in the Final Four of the 2012 Philippine Collegiate Champions League, is now with De La Salle.
Down by 14 at the end of the third period, 46-60, SWU poured in 26 points in the pivotal fourth but fell short of pulling off a win.
“Malaking factor na nawala siya (Mbala),” Reyes, who called the shots as head coach Yayoy Alcoseba is busy campaigning for a provincial board seat back home, said of the Cameroonian.
“Pero andyan na yan, we just have to make do with what we have and make the most out of it,” he added.