With a new coach in Aldin Ayo and Cameroonian import Ben Mbala expected to dominate in his debut season, there’s no question that the La Salle Green Archers are the heavy favorites to win this year’s UAAP basketball crown.
After rival teams easily picked them as the team to beat for the new season that starts this weekend, the Green Archers now face the daunting task of proving their worth after capturing a preseason title and prevailing most of their scrimmages with reckless abandon.
Credit it to La Salle’s newfound culture implemented by Ayo, who after coming out of nowhere to steer his alma mater Letran to the NCAA championship last season made a shock move to handle La Salle’s bid for its first title since 2013.
“Wherever you go, there’s pressure. So for me, everytime you get pressured, it opens up to opportunities if you wanted it well. And pressure also motivates us,” Ayo said during yesterday’s press conference at Novotel Cubao.
Ayo brought along his knack for implementing pressure defense, a system known by names of “House of Chaos” and “Mayhem”, the Green Archers lorded over the Filoil preseason tourney in June, with Mbala showing a glimpse of what to expect come the UAAP opener with his strong plays inside the paint.
After undergoing three years of residency following his transfer from Southwestern University in Cebu, Mbala is looking forward to challenge of playing in one of the country’s top collegiate leagues.
“It will be exciting. Can’t wait to play some great teams and great players. Just want to get out there and compete after three years. Hopefully I could give my best for the team,” said Mbala.
The cage season opens Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, but La Salle will make its debut on Sept. 7 against defending champion Far Eastern University in a game that is expected to be filled with fireworks after two teams got into each other during an exhibition match that was halted in the third quarter.