CEBU CITY – As much as he tried to convince everyone that his match against his former teammates on Thursday night felt like any other game, La Salle slotman Ben Mbala admitted otherwise.
“It was a game (that is) plenty of emotions. Cebu is my home. I started there from nothing and I want to say thank you to all the Cebuano people for the love," said the Cameroonian big man after La Salle's thrilling 59-54 win over his former team Southwestern University in the PCCL Elite Eight.
"Without their support I would not be where I am now,” the former Cobras star added.
Mbala managed to score just eight points but six of them came in the final period where his strong inside play kept the Cobras at bay. He credited his former coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba for formulating a sound defensive scheme that wedged a phalanx of defenders between him and the rim.
“My coach knew my style of game and got his team prepared for it. But still I enjoyed the game and its intensity,” said Mbala, who steered the Cobras to their very first crown in the Cesafi basketball tournament in 2012 with a pulsating five-game finals win over the University of the Visayas Green Lancers.
But when the smoke of battle cleared, Mbala admitted he couldn’t help but feel bad for the squad that he called family for two years.
“To be honest I tried putting out of my mind all the emotions and I tried just to focus on the game. But at the end I felt a bit sad about them losing but that's sports, someone has to lose,” Mbala said.
With four games for La Salle's Team A already under his belt, Mbala said he still has a long way to go in adjusting his game to his new teammates.
“So far so good. I am still trying to adjust. I am not yet on point. There is still many aspects of my game that I need to adjust,” the former Basketball Without Borders Africa Camp MVP said.