BEN Mbala had a monster game on the offensive and defensive end in La Salle’s 79-76 win over Ateneo to end the UAAP Season 80 elimination round and pave the way for the Final Four.
But it was a defensive play that didn’t reflect in the stat sheet that he made to preserve La Salle’s victory.
Ateneo appeared on its way to regaining the lead when Anton Asistio found Isaac Go wide open inside for a possible short stab and a potential game-winner.
But Mbala used his speed and quickness to recover from a defensive miscue, contesting Go’s shot and forcing him to miss.
Mbala said he was determined to win the game through defense.
“Coach told us to be quick on defense, always be there, and give them the hardest possible shot,” Mbala said. “That’s what I tried to do. Jump straight up. If I fouled him, that’s two easy free throws. Lucky for us, Ricci was able to get the rebound.”
Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin recognized Mbala’s hustle play to contest Go’s shot.
“Ben is just a force in this kind of games, and he recovered so quickly from being out of position.” Baldwin said.
Mbala showed his determination to win, as the Cameroonian finished with 28 points, 19 rebounds, and six blocks in a game that led to La Salle handing Ateneo its first defeat of the season.
“I just wanted to win. Coach told us to keep on pushing. We just gave our everything, and we left the rest to God, and help us win the game. That’s what we tried to do,” said Mbala.