The championship aura surrounding the reigning Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation (Cesafi) titlists Southwestern University Cobras may just last for a year.
This, after a well-placed source within the La Salle Green Archers basketball squad confirmed they have managed to recruit SWU’s prized Cameroonian big man Ben Mbala.
The source, who requested not to be named, texted that they have successfully snagged Mbala, adding to the recruitment coup that, just a few days ago, included the nabbing of the Bacolod-based Kib Montalbo.
“FYI. Confirmed they will play for DLSU,” said the high-ranking school official, with the “they” referring to the newly-signed Montalbo and Mbala.
It has been collegiate basketball’s worst-kept secret that Manila teams have been hot in pursuit of Mbala, a former MVP of the Basketball Without Borders Africa basketball camp who led SWU to its first championship in the Cesafi.
After a stellar showing in the 2012 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL), which included a 41-point outing against the eventual champions University of Santo Tomas, the chase was officially on.
Following his first season in the Cesafi, wherein he dominated the competition, Mbala longed for bigger fish to fry and came away impressed with the level of talent in Manila. It was something he wasn’t shy to state in a previous interview with Spin.ph, “As a player the thing we want is challenge, more challenge. And I heard here in Manila, the schools are stronger than in Cebu so I’ll think about it. I don’t know yet.”
In an interview with Cebu Daily News yesterday, Mbala himself confirmed La Salle’s interest in his services but was seemingly agitated with reports and tweets on Twitter that the Archers had him already. “They want me. They even posted and tweeted that they signed me already, damn!” said Mbala in a message to this writer.
Ultimately, as of yesterday, Mbala remains in the Cobras’ pit as he said that nobody from the green camp has talked to him yet. “I never talked to someone from La Salle. None of those schools approached me. Maybe they talked to my coach but I have the final decision.”
It is apparent though, that it may just be a matter of time before Mbala moves to the UAAP, especially after he posted this on Twitter just a few days ago: “I finally decided to move but i am exitating between two UAAP schools.”
SWU athletic director, Ryan Aznar, was not surprised with the level of interest that Mbala has gotten. However, he was surprised with the news that reached him and stated that La Salle has not contacted them regarding the big man in any way. “Mbala is free to play in Manila if he wants. It would be to the team’s detriment if we forced somebody to play against his will. But I reiterate what I said before, the only requisite is that any school that wants to recruit him must approach us first or else, we will not release his records.”