Powerhouse La Salle continues to assert its dominance in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament. And so does prized import Ben Mbala.
The 6-foot-7 Mbala came through with another pair of overpowering performances as the Green Archers completed a seven-game sweep of the first-round of eliminations for the first time since 2002.
A prized transferee from Southwestern U, Mbala continued to show proof that he’s as good as advertised, averaging monstrous numbers of 23.5 points, 15.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks in La Salle’s last two victories against University of the East and Ateneo.
His desire to make up for lost time after violating the league’s residency rule that kept him on the freezer for another year has been the biggest motivation of the Cameroon big man so far.
“I just want to make the most out of it. I wanna make sure, they remember the guy who was out for three years,” said Mbala, who emerged as the hands-down choice anew for the ACCEL Quantum/3XVI-UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week honors, his second overall this season.
In their hard-earned 84-78 win over the Red Warriors last Wednesday, Mbala was at his usual form anew, collecting 19 points and 17 rebounds on top of three blocks, as many assists and a steal in 31 minutes of play.
Four days after, Mbala played with added fire in the absence of suspended coach Aldin Ayo and injured star Jeron Teng in the Green Archers’ 97-81 win over the Blue Eagles, highlighting his 28-point, 13-rebound, five-steal-performance with several rim-rattling dunks.
“Without coach and Jeron there, it’s a test for us to show what we can do. I’m really proud of how the guys played as we stuck together,” he said.
Mbala edged National U’s Matt Salem and Alvin Pasaol of UE for the weekly citation given by scribes covering the country’s premier collegiate league from top broadsheets, national dailies and online portals. – Jerome Lagunzad
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