WHAT difference big man Ben Mbala could have made for De La Salle this season.
Coach Juno Sauler was made to ponder about the matter shortly after the Green Archers’ UAAP season ended on Wednesday night with a heartbreaking 71-68 loss to Far Eastern University at the end of the eliminations.
The Cameroonian, a prized recruit from Cebu school Southwestern University, was supposed to suit up for the Taft-based school in Season 78 but was declared ineligible after he was found to have played in a commercial league last year in violation of the UAAP's residency rules.
“Probably, if Ben was there, maybe it could have made the difference,” said the La Salle coach, pointing out the lack of an 'intimidating presence' inside the paint for the Green Archers all season.
“That’s why we are last in blocks. We don’t have any intimidating factor.”
Sauler said Mbala’s presence could have definitely helped the Green Archers' campaign since the center spot has been the team's weakness all season owing to an undersized frontline.
“We use Prince (Rivero) at center. He is probably 6-2. Our 4-man is Jason (Perkins) who is not that tall," said Sauler, who is in his third season as La Salle coach.
"We have to compete with the likes of FEU na may (Prince) Orizu, Ateneo has (Chibueze) Ikeh, Adamson has (Pape) Sarr, UP has (Cheick) Kone, NU has (Alfred) Aroga, UST has (Karim) Abdul, and all those guys are 6-6 above and for Prince to be manning the middle."
Sauler was nonetheless full of praise for Rivero’s play all season, saying the sophomore forward played admirably against players bigger than him.
“Prince has been our consistent big man. His game has grown from the very first game until today. He was solid. He had a great field goal percentage, scored double digits. Prince played very well this season,” he noted.