MANILA -- After losing the championship against Ateneo de Manila University on Sunday, Ben Mbala sent a strong message to other universities as he hinted his return to the De La Salle University Green Archers in the UAAP Season 81.
The two-time UAAP MVP revealed he still has one playing year left and he just needed to talk to La Salle for possibly another season with the Green Archers who are aiming to bounce back from their loss.
La Salle head coach Aldin Ayo was also firm about Mbala's return.
“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,” Ayo said.
Meanwhile, Mbala was still proud of his team despite their foiled title defense.
“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,” mused Mbala, who finished Game 3 with 19 points and 14 boards.
Mbala went on to note that losing the championship is part of the learning curve for the Taft-based squad.
“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 added.
Up by two midway through the payoff period, La Salle allowed Ateneo to pull away off a 14-2 run, highlighted by three-point bombs from Anton Asistio and Matt Nieto for an 80-70 lead, 4:06 left in the season.
La Salle threatened to pull off a comeback, closing the gap to just a couple of points, 80-82, but the Blue Eagles showed composure down the stretch with Isaac Go sinking a trey in the last 24 seconds for an 85-80 lead.
“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,” Mbala explained.
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