Ben Mbala says Bright Akhuetie can turn UP into dominant team, but plays down future match-up
Reigning UAAP MVP Ben Mbala of La Salle in the company of his former coach Yayoy Alcoseba during the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City.

CEBU CITY – Another big dog is set to invade the UAAP yard, but reigning MVP Ben Mbala of La Salle said he hasn’t given the arrival of Nigerian big man Bright Akhuetie in the University of the Philippines camp much thought.

Visiting this city for the Sinulog Festival over the weekend, the hulking Cameroonian praised Akhuetie and said his arrival is bound to boost the Maroons' campaign in the seasons to come.

“I think he is a great player and he can really help UP become a dominant team,” said Mbala, the 6-foot-8 forward who, before taking the UAAP by storm this past season, first made a name for himself in Cebu while playing for the Southwestern University-Phinma Cobras.

Mbala related that he had played against Akhuetie once before while suiting up for La Salle’s Team B in the Fr. Martin’s Cup during his residency with the Green Archers.

“I lost,” said Mbala with a hearty laugh.

“But I won’t lie. It was for Team B so I wasn’t taking it seriously,” he added with a sly grin.

[See Is there a chance of an Mbala-Akhuetie face-off? UAAP officials' opinions vary]

Asked if he is looking forward to matching up with the 6-foot-7 Akhuetie, who led the Perpetual Altas to the Final Four of the NCAA last year, Mbala emphatically said that he wasn’t.

“I am over one-on-one matchups. Basketball is a team sport. You don't win by yourself,” Mbala said.

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