Three made mayhem in DLSU’s 2016 cage title run

 

 

QUEZON CITY–Three made mayhem.

We all knew they were coming. Everybody expected no less than a Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines) men’s basketball championship for the De La Salle University Green Archers.

Jeron Teng (right, in the air) and Ben Mbala steered the DLSU Green Archers to this year's UAAP title by sweeping the best-of-three series against the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles (photo by RJ Quiroz of Rektikano.net)

Jeron Teng (right, in the air) and Ben Mbala steered the DLSU Green Archers to this year’s UAAP title by sweeping the best-of-three series against the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles (photo by RJ Quiroz of Rektikano.net)

 

 

 

 

 

 

And three people made their mark in this 2016 coming-out party for the Archers. Two of them just started their winning tales. One finally ended his.

There’s coach Aldin Ayo. Plucked out from a Dominican school that won a title at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the Bicolano coach brought his NCAA  tactics into Philippine collegiate basketball’s reputed big stage.

Right after the 79-72 win in Game 2 over the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, Ayo heaved a sigh of relief. More than happiness and pride, relief came to Ayo.

“I don’t know how to celebrate this win. I am happy because we achieved the objective,” Ayo said, the first Filipino coach to win the NCAA and UAAP title in consecutive years.

“Basketball is my life. I wagered everything here [Ito na yung buhay ko eh. Pinusta ko lahat dito eh].”

Instead of basking in the title glory, Ayo was quick to humble himself and praised his players for sacrificing the old system of matchups to a new one, his, filled with team play.

“They sacrificed a lot. They’re not used to my coaching system; before, the ball doesn’t rotate and they’re [Archers]  doing matchups,” he said.

“They surrendered to the system and played basketball.”

As the conffeti fell and the La Salle crowd burst in loud glory, Ato joysneaked out to have a solemn, personal moment at the Araneta Coliseum’s cross figure.

The next major character is 6’8″ Ben Mbala, another one of those imports from Cameroon but a generational player. He idolizes LeBron James even if Mbala’s athleticism differs from the King. (Mbala usually tries to imitate how James hooks the ball in hands before a tomahawk dunk.)

Like Ayo, Mbala’s plucked out of the Philippine “province” as an import for the Southwestern University Cobras in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi). Mbala was also a former champion, at the 2013 Cesafi.

The then 17 year old caught DLSU’s attention at the 2013 Philippine Collegiate Champions League. He had to fulfill a year of residency but was meted another year of waiting for playing in a non-sanctioned league while on residency.

Look at what Mbala had become: UAAP most valuable player. Since day 1 of season 79, Mbala skied for rebounds and mustered points to become the year’s main Archer.

And when the confetti bursted, Mbala cried profusely. He was the guy without any basketball knowledge, then he went up to the championship stage.

“Well, I didn’t know anything about basketball,” Mbala said. “I had to do a lot of sacrifice, to push myself to the limit, to quit stuff on the side. You do it for the game.”

The game Mbala brought to Manila made him one of the strongest UAAP imports of recent memory.

How strong? When a teammate of his drove to the backet and the ball hit all board and no ring, Mbala skied for a two-handed follow-up jam over an Atenean defender. The latter napped on that sequence.

Ayo and Mbala are twin title holders. But so is Jeron Teng.

His final UAAP game was memorable: 28 points, coming in from jumpshots and Teng’s drives in heavy traffic.

Teng the celebrated forward and father of a former professional player finished his collegiate career with a Finals MVP plum. That was given Teng’s 28-point performance that looked like readying himself for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) where father Alvin made a name.

Teng is the last of notable generation players from the turn of the new decade. Never named even to the developmental squad of Smart Gilas. Never a regular season MVP.

Never sad to bid goodbye to the Archers and to thw UAAP. Jeron was jumping up and down and flashing the arching smile to supporters after the game.

“I just wanted this day to be my last day,” Teng told sports writers.

The three –Ayo, Mbala and Teng– who made mayhem this 79th season of the UAAP will be trimmed down to two next year. Of course, the three who made mayhem were ably supported by a deep roster, talented in almost all positions. The same can be said next year for DLSU.

And after this historic DLSU title run, the newly-minted 2016 MVP Mbala gave fans an assurance of a back-to-back title run.

“Of course we’re going to repeat, we’re not contented with one win,” Mbala said.  “We’re gonna do whatever it takes to be on top.”

 

 

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