By Ernest HernandezBen Mbala of the De La Salle University Green Archers showed in game 2 of the UAAP Season 80 Finals why he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. He finished with big numbers – 20 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and four blocks.
After allowing the Ateneo Blue Eagles to enjoy leads by as much as 21 points, he now brushes aside everything and focuses on finishing the job on Sunday, December 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Coming to Game 3, we’re not coming here to lose a game. Everyone wants to be champions,” said Mbala.
“We’re not gonna come out there and be like, ‘ohh we won the game, I got the MVP that’s it,’ no. We came here to be champions that’s what we’re gonna work for. We’re gonna come out here and try to grab that trophy,” he adds.
Mbala believes that this finals matchup is different from last year where the Archers were heavy favorites. This time, he feels both teams are well matched, and there are no underdogs.
“When you play Ateneo, there are no underdogs; there’s no one having the upper hand. Anyone can blow you out anyone can play like the champions. When you go there, you have to give your everything. The crowd is crazy, and everyone wants to win it. Everyone is diving for the ball, and it’s crazy, but you still have to find a way to stay focused and do what you have to do,” explains Mbala.
Set to play the game of his life on Sunday, Mbala shrugged off the pressure of facing his Alma Mater’s fiercest rival. He intends to focus on maximizing their strengths and prevent another lousy start similar to game 2.
“Not much-added emotion or pressure heading into game 3, it’s a game that we have to win, it’s the finals, and we all know it’s Ateneo,” said Mbala.
“We have to do our best and play the way we played today and start that way. Not the way we started today but start the way we were playing in the second and third quarter,” he ended.