La Salle’s Mbala is UAAP MVP anew

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For the second straight year, De La Salle University’s Ben Mbala emerged as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 men’s basketball tournament.

And even the near perfect elimination round campaign of Ateneo de Manila could help Thirdy Ravena in giving the Cameroonian a serious challenge for the award.

The Green Archers center was the runaway winner for the highest individual honor in the league after accumulating 96.58 statistical points (SPs) built around his averages of 26 points 13.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

De La Salle University’s Ben Mbala and Ateneo de Manila University’s Thirdy Ravena (No. 0) battle for a rebound. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

He punctuated another MVP season with a 28-point, 19-rebound, six-assist and six-block performance in La Salle’s come-from-behind 79-76 win over the Blue Eagles last Sunday that denied the latter of a sweep and an outright finals berth.

La Salle finished second in the elimination phase and will meet Adamson University in the Final Four stage on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum. Top seed Ateneo and No. 4 Far Eastern University (FEU) will face off on Sunday in the other semifinals pairing also at the Big Dome.

Mbala accomplished the feat despite missing two games because of his commitment with Cameroon in the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 last August.

He joined Jun Limpot (1989, 1990, 1992), Mark Telan (1996 and 1997), Don Allado (1998 and 1999) in the elite group of Green Archers who won back-to-back MVP plums in the UAAP.

Ravena finished a far second with 66.50 followed by National University’s (NU) Jayjay Alejandro (63.86), Alvin Pasaol (63.43) of University of the East, Adamson center Papi Sarr (63.15), NU’s Issa Gaye (57.57), University of Santo Tomas’ Steve Akomo (56.77), Green Archer Ricci Rivero (56.28), University of the Philippines’ Paul Desiderio (54.50) and Chibueze Ikeh (49.36) of Ateneo.

Last season, the league ruled that only one foreign athlete should be part of the Mythical Five and if the same rule applies this season, Sarr, Gaye and Akomo will be disqualified for the honor and Rivero will get the last spot in the Mythical Five.

This will be Ravena’s second straight Mythical Five selection while Alejando, Pasaol and Rivero are first-time members.

Fighting Maroon Juan Gomez de Liano will be honored as the season’s Rookie of the Year after finishing No. 14 in the SPs category, the highest among first-year players who came from high school.

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