Besides having greats like Jeron Teng in attendance, the De La Salle University Green Archers have a very special guest during their win-or-go-home playoff game against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws.
It was none other than two-time UAAP Men’s Basketball Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala.
Mbala – who was supposed to be a replacement import for the Magnolia Hotshots – made sure to not let the rain and traffic stop him from arriving at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, Wednesday afternoon.
“Of course! Why do you think I’m here? I had to get an Angkas to make it on time. It was super traffic,” shared the 6-foot-8 Cameroonian.
“I wanted to be here for the team and show support.”
And during the halftime break, the 23-year-old gave the young Green Archers some tips to beat FEU – a squad that never beat him during his two-year stay in La Salle.
“Just a little tips about playing against FEU. Our guys from last year, I gave them little tips. Told them to play hard,” disclosed the one-time UAAP gold medalist.
Though La Salle were up, 38-36, entering the second half, Mbala is bracing for a tight game between the two squads.
“Actually got here late, but I watched the last three minutes of the second quarter. I mean it’s going to be a tied game until the end of the game. It will go down to execution. This types of games… Remember when I was not playing yet? Mac Belo hit the shot over [Jason] Perkins,” recalled Mbala about the UAAP Season 78 Final Four tilt, which saw the Tamaraws hand the Green Archers a 67-64 heartbreaker.
“It’s going to be that type of game. I’m hoping the guys won’t crumble underneath the pressure. I’m sure they’ll handle it.”
Even if he has been a pro in Mexico, France, and Korea, Mbala shared that he will forever be grateful to La Salle.
“I wanna show my support and how grateful I am to them. You know, I’m always a La Sallian and I’ll always be one.”
The do-or-die affair between La Salle and FEU is ongoing as of press time.