Three dominant collegiate imports rolled into one.
That’s how Arellano U coach Jerry Codiñera described La Salle’s dominant reinforcement Ben Mbala, who proved too much to handle for the Chiefs in the Green Archers’ unstoppable drive to the 2016 FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup title over the weekend.
The 6-foot-7 Mbala stood tallest—literally and figuratively—above everyone else, registering monstrous stat line of 28 points, 26 rebounds and eight blocks while leaving their fans and foes alike in utter disbelief in what could be considered as one of the most dominant performances in modern collegiate action.
Count Codiñera, 49, among those who were left impressed with the Cameroonian big man.
“Far superior talaga ‘yung import nila. Ibang level ‘yung Mbala. No one can come close,” he told FOX Sports in a phone interview on Tuesday. “He’s playing on a different class. Iba ang galing nu’n.”
The awe-inspiring finals performance of Mbala proved enough for Codiñera to be convinced that the Green Archers have found a “complete package” that combined all the top skills set of NCAA’s fearsome imports—reigning NCAA and Rookie of the Year awardee Allwell Oraeme of Mapua, Perpetual Help’s Bright Akhuetie and long-time San Beda reinforcement Ola Adeogun.
“Ang basa ko du’n sa Mbala, three imports rolled into one. He rebounds like Oraeme, he shoots like Akhueti and he plays hard like Adeogun. Complete package ‘yun. Kumbaga wala ka nang hahanapin pa—andu’n na and lahat,” he said.
A member of the pro league’s “25 Greatest Players,” Codiñera added Mbala certainly raises the bar among the foreign student-athletes currently seeing action in the country today.
“Akala ko nga ‘yung Akhuetie, napakalakas na nu’n. Kaso nagmukhang mababa, kumbaga Class C lang,” he said. “Kahit paluin mo ata ‘to (Mbala) ng dos por dos, kakamutin lang parang ganun. Kahit siguro ‘to ma-sprain, maski severe sprain, ri-rebound pa rin ng kinse. Makaka-dunk pa siguro. Ibang klase kasi ‘to.”
Fondly called as “The Defense Minister” for his defensive prowess during his prime during a colorful 17-year career in the pro ranks, Codiñera admitted he’s also very glad to see how Mbala reminded him—and everybody else—how a big man should play—and dominate in the lane.
“He just reminded me of myself when I was playing before. That’s how you play the big man position—relentless rebounding, relentless playing. Ang pinakamatindi dun sa ginawa niya, yung eight blocks. Wala ng gusto sumalaksak. He owns the (paint) area. Kumbaga wala talagang makakapasok. Nakukutuwa lang mapanood ‘yung tulad niya kasi ang sarap niya panoorin sa loob,” he said.
Asked how a one-time Defensive Player of the Year and a perennial member of the pro league’s Defensive Team could fare against Mbala, Codiñera said: “Kung nu’ng collegiate ako tapos ganun siya kalakas, patay ako. Kung inabutan ko pero nasa pro kami, kayang trabahuhin. Malaking trabaho pero kaya.
“Kasi defensive player ako. Aalang problema sa akin. Pero ‘pag kinuha siya ng offensive player, patay. May tira rin kasi sa labas. Maski ‘yung ibang imports na pang-PBA, lalaban ‘to. Tindig pa lang, porma pa lang, talo ka na,” he added. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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