King Archer Mbala leads MVP race

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Ben Mbala played just five elimination games in the first round of Season 80 University Athletic Association (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament after representing Cameroon in FIBA AfroBasket 2017.

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But the two matches he missed hardly affected his chances for a second straight Most Valuable Player (MVP) award as the De La Salle University center emerged as the runaway leader for the highest individual trophy in the league.

The six-foot-seven athletic big man amassed a total of 98 statistical points (SPs) after leading the Green Archers to a 5-2 win-loss record in the first round.

Ben Mbala of La Salle drives on Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo during the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

Running far second is Thirdy Ravena of the 7-0 Ateneo de Manila University.

Ravena collected 66 SPs and he was followed by Adamson University center Papi Sarr (65.16), National University’s (NU) Jayjay Alejandro (62.71) and the league’s newest scoring machine Alvin Pasaol (61) of University of the East (UE).

Rounding up the top ten were University of the Philippines’ (UP) Paul Desiderio (57.14), Blue Eagles big man Chibueze Ikeh (55.57), Issa Gaye (53.28) of the Bulldogs, Green Archers guard Aljun Melecio (52.5) and University of Santo Tomas’ (UST) Steve Akomo (51).

Unless Mbala gets a suspension in the second round or suffers a serious injury, the Cameroonian could be on his way to winning his second straight MVP honor that will put him in the ranks of La Salle’s celebrated big men who won back-to-back MVPs in the past.

Former King Archer Zandro “Jun” Limpot won the MVP in 1989 and 1990 and bagged his third in 1992, Mark Telan pocketed the honor in 1996 and 1997 while Don Allado got the MVP in 1998 and 1999.

The last UAAP player to win back-to-back MVPs was Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena in 2014 and 2015.

Mbala was also the league’s top scorer with 30.4 points per game. He was followed by Pasaol (22.4), Desiderio (18.1), Alejandro (17.9) and Ravena (14.9).

Sarr was the UAAP’s top rebounder with 13.2 a game followed by Akomo (12.4), Mbala (11.8), UP’s Ibrahim Outtara (11.7) and Ikeh (9.4).

Alejandro topped the assists department with 5.4 dimes per contest, Adamson’s Jerrie Pingoy was No. 1 in steals with 3.1 while Gaye and Akomo were tied in blocks with 2.3 swats per night.

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