BEN Mbala shrugged off the end of his streak of 19 straight games with a double-double, as the highly touted Cameroonian recruit was more than satisfied to see his La Salle team get back on track.
Mbala was still dominant despite ending up a rebound short of keeping that streak alive, as he finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in the Green Archers’ 115-86 win over University of Santo Tomas on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Coming off its first defeat in the UAAP Season 80 at the hands of the University of the Philippines, La Salle vented its ire on UST with an explosive performance.
And even with his streak broken, the reigning UAAP MVP remained pleased especially with the Archers show of force.
“Well, I’m not gonna look for double-doubles. It’s not about the stats, it’s about the team winning. If the team plays better, then I’d give that away, I don’t mind. It’s not about myself it’s about my team first,” said Mbala who’s averaging a league best 31.6 points per game and 10.3 rebounds since returning from his stint with Cameroon in the Fiba Afrobasket.
The 6-foot-7 Mbala knew the importance of this game, especially after coming off the biggest surprise of the season so far when the Fighting Maroons scored a 98-87 victory over them last Saturday.
“We were very eager, it was a disappointment against UP. We all know the La Salle community wasn’t very happy so we had to find a way to get back on track for the whole game,” he added.
The 22-year-old big man called that defeat as a wake-up call and a stinging reminder that they’re not as invincible as some of the pundits say and Mbala liked how his team responded.
“I say it was a wake-up call. Coming off last season being dominant and being champions, people say we’re the team to beat. No we’re just a team like everyone else. Everyone else has 50-50 percent chance of winning the championship,” said Mbala.
“UP played well and they reminded us that everyone can win the championship and we have to find a way to get back to the level we had last year if ever, to increase what we had last year,” he added.
The La Salle star also believed the loss to UP was all the Archers needed to get their act together and start regaining their championship form.
“There’s still a lot of adjustment, it’s just the first round, so we have to work on what we have to do. I feel like we’ll be able to get there. There’s always room for improvement. As a team we have to play well and keep working to be able to reach that level,” he said.