Ben Mbala set for Season 80 debut as La Salle braces for another tough battle vs Adamson
Top imports Ben Mbala and Papi Sarr collide anew in Season 80.

BEN Mbala is expected to make his UAAP Season 80 debut as La Salle faces Adamson on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

La Salle coach Aldin Ayo said Mbala returned to practice on Monday after arriving in the country Sunday fresh from his Fiba Afrobasket with Cameroon.

Mbala's arrival is an added concern for the Falcons, who are coming off a rousing win over University of Santo Tomas to claim their first victory of the season.

During the group phase, Mbala finished second in points with 18.3 only behind eventual MVP and former NBA player Ike Diogu of Nigeria, who had 22.3 points per outing.

The La Salle-Adamson match is set at around 4:30 p.m.

Ayo hinted moving Mbala to different positions aside from the center spot following his all-around play with Cameroon. The La Salle coach, however, stressed having Mbala back isn't a sure victory for the Green Archers.

"Marami nagsasabi na 2, 3, 4, 5, hindi naman automatic na pag linagay mo si Ben sa 2, mananalo ka na eh because we have very good coaches na kalaban eh. I'm sure they will adjust," said Ayo, whose team is fresh from their second win of the season at the expense of National University, 115-109.

One of the very good coaches in the league is with Adamson in Franz Pumaren, who steered La Salle to five titles from the late 1990s to the early 2000s.

Pumaren, in fact, came short of forcing La Salle to a deciding game in the Final Four last year before losing, 69-64. The Adamson coach rued his team was one bad call away from keeping their chance of upsetting La Salle alive at that time after he was called for a technical foul for holding the ball in the later stage of the game.

"Past is past but I'm just driving a point. Let us not let that kind of situation decide the outcome on the game. I'm not saying kung wala akong technical we could have won the game but that was a momentum swing. That was two shots and a possession," said Pumaren.

La Salle looks to join Ateneo in the lead with the Blue Eagles at 3-0.

Papi Sarr, who is coming off a groin injury, hopes to hold his own against Mbala in the battle of the top bigs in the league.

In the first game, NU (1-1) faces UST (0-2) at 2 p.m.


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