DESPITE missing a couple of games and falling short of a double-double twice this season, Ben Mbala
remains the best individual player in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
Mbala, La Salle’s main man in the middle, will receive his second straight MVP award later
this month after topping the statistical race with 96.5833 statistical points.
Powering the Green Archers to a second-best 12-2 record in the elimination round, Mbala led
all comers in scoring with 25.8 points per contests.
The Cameroon national team stalwart also tallied impressive numbers of 13.1 rebounds, 2.5
blocks, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game.
After topping the season MVP race with plenty to spare, Mbala hopes to accomplish his ultimate
goal which is to help La Salle win a second consecutive title.
“We kept pushing and we just gave our everything and we left the rest to God, and it was able
to help us win the game, and that’s what we plan to do for the next few games. Play hard and leave the
rest to God,” said Mbala, who missed the first two games of the season due to Fiba Afrobasket
Mbala thus became the first player from Green Archers to capture back-to-back MVP honors since
Don Allado last did the trick in 1998-99. Previous La Salle consecutive MVP winners were Mark Telan
(1996-97) and Jun Limpot (1989-90).
Other back-to-back MVPs since 2000 are Ateneo’s Rich Alvarez (2000-01), Far Eastern
University’s Arwind Santos (2004-05), National University’s Bobby Ray Parks (2011-12) and Ateneo’s
Kiefer Ravena (2014-15).
Mbala had a massive 30.08-point margin over his closest pursuer Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena, who
tallied 66.50 SPs to become the top local performer.
Completing the Mythical Five are Mbala, Ravena, NU’s Jjay Alejandro, University of the East’s
Alvin Pasaol and La Salle’s Ricci Rivero.
Making a big leap was Rivero, who ended up in eighth in the statistical race from No. 14 in
the first round. The Archers guard was able to sneak in the Mythical Five due to the league rule that
limited the selection to only one foreign player.
With Mbala already there, Adamson’s Cameroonian slotman Papi Sarr, NU’s Senegalese big man
Issa Gaye and University of Santo Tomas’ Cameroonian center Steve Akomo, who ranked fifth to seventh
in the MVP race, were ineligible to be awarded a position.
University of the Philippines’ Juan Gomez de Liaño, meanwhile, was the runaway winner in the
Rookie of the Year race with 46.6923 SPs. The former juniors division MVP averaged 11.6 points, 6.2
rebounds and 2.5 assists this season to help the Fighting Maroons in collecting six wins this season,
the most since 2004.
In the women’s division, Jack Danielle Animam of the Lady Bulldogs emerged victorious in the
MVP race with 77.2857 SPs.