Ben Mbala gracious in defeat; Ayo bares big man has one year left with La Salle
Ben Mbala bares his emotions after the Game Three loss. Marlo Cueto

LOSING the title may be one bitter pill to swallow for reigning back-to-back MVP Ben Mbala, but the La Salle star knows that this is all a part of his journey in basketball.

The Cameroonian powerhouse gave all the credit to Ateneo for playing better as a team and sticking to its game plan as charged this loss to experience, not only for him but for the rest of the Green Archers.

“It has to be a learning experience for me. You can’t just learn by winning. You can also learn by losing. This is a situation that you have to learn by losing and I take it as a man,” Mbala said as he scored 17 points and 14 rebounds in their 88-86 loss to the Blue Eagles.

“I just told them (teammates) congrats. You gave your best. You won’t always be a winner. Sometimes you just have to be on the side of the losers, unluckily, we were on the side of the losers,” he added.

The 23-year-old big man rued his squad’s meltdown in the fourth quarter where he said they veered away from their game plan, losing their rhythm in the process.

“We didn’t get to play our game. We didn’t get to our games. We didn’t have our rhythm. We just played within the flow and we took a lot of bad shots, turned the ball over when it was the most important.“

He however was happy to finally get this heated series over with where he took his own share of criticism and negative comments from opposing fans.

While walking out of the dugout, Mbala was approached by several Ateneo fans asking for photos while also exchanging hugs with some Ateneo players.

For Mbala, that right there was the essence of this game.

“It’s a game after all, just not because it’s Ateneo or La Salle you have to hate each other. After the game, we still have our lives and we have to keep going on with our lives.”

Mbala still has a year of eligibility left and he said that he will talk to the school about  his future plans.

His head coach in Aldin Ayo, however, is confident that Mbala will be back for his final year.

“He still has one year based on the ground rules of the UAAP. Ben still has one more year in the UAAP. He’ll be here next year,” said Ayo.


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