Mbala leaves La Salle to turn pro


Ben Mbala of La Salle attempts to block a layup by Sean Manganti of Adamson during the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.

Ben Mbala has decided to leave De La Salle University for a professional career in the Mexican ball club Forza Regia de Monterrey.

“After five years, two incredible UAAP seasons, numerous off-season tournaments, and of course, countless unforgettable memories, it is with a heavy heart that I announce that the time has come for me to move on from De La Salle University and the Green Archers,” Mbala announced on Friday morning via Twitter.

Fuerza Regia is a Monterrey, Nueva Leon-based team that plays in the top pro league Nacional de Baloncesto Pro­fesional in Mexico. Two days prior to Mbala’s announcement, Fuerza through an Instagram post declared that it has signed the versatile 6-foot-8 cager as its import.

“I want to publicly thank boss ECJ (Eduardo Cojuangco), the managers, coach Aldin (Ayo), the rest of the coaching staff, and my teammates for all the incredulous opportunities that I have been given during my time there. You all have made my time in the Philippines truly worthwhile. I also want to thank the La Sallian community and the fans, thank you for your never-ending support,” Mbala’s Twitter announcement reads.

Mbala was the most dominant player in the past two seasons of the UAAP winning the Most Valuable Player award twice.

After a two-year residency and a one-year suspension for playing in tournaments outside the league, Mbala towed the Green Archers to their ninth championship in Season 79 as he posted an impressive average of 20.6 points 16.0 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.4 steals.

The former Southwestern University star went on to win another MVP trophy the following season with an average of 26 points, 13.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. An impressive feat considering he missed the first two games due to his duty to the Cameroon national team in the FIBA Afrobasket 2017. La Salle though was not able to defend its crown against archrival Ateneo De Manila University.

“I know my choice might come as a surprise to many, and I have to admit, the decision to leave was the toughest I have had to make after being with La Salle for so many years. But I feel that this decision is best for the next stage in my career and development.”

The Cameroonian’s eligibility to play in the next UAAP season was being questioned because of the seven-year window rule that allows a student-athlete to play for a maximum of five seasons over a seven-year span starting from his high school graduation. Mbala graduated from high school in 2011, which made him ineligible to play in Season 81.

But it would not be a problem now as the 22-year old player has decided to bring his talent to a top-tier league overseas.

“I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to represent the Green Archers and will always be Lasallian at heart,” he concluded.

Taane Samuel, a 6-foot-8 member of the New Zealand youth team, is reportedly the replacement for Mbala. Samuel is already serving his residency in the Taft-based team.


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