There is hardly any doubt that the De La Salle Green Archers’ Ben Mbala is still the most dominant force in the UAAP.
Despite missing the first two games of Season 80, the 6-foot-7 big man is set to be named this year’s Most Valuable Player, garnering 96.58 Statistical Points (SPs). Just like last year, he has normed eye-catching numbers once again. Through 12 games, he posted averages of 26.0 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.5 blocks.
Mbala is part of the Cameroon national basketball team that competed in the recent 2017 FIBA Afrobasket, which coincided with the Green Archers’ first two games. When he returned in the UAAP, he unveiled his newest weapon – the three-pointer. This season has been brilliant for the reigning league MVP, leading his team to a 12-2 finish.
His outstanding play last Sunday also foiled the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ bid for an elimination round sweep. In La Salle’s 79-76 victory, the 22-year-old was in a league of his own as he put up 28 points, 19 rebounds, six steals, and six rejections.
Mbala is the runaway leader in the MVP race with Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo is a far second with 66.5 SPs. Ravena has been a vital cog for the league-leading Eagles producing 14.4 points, 8.4 boards, and 3.3 assists.
Joining Mbala and Ravena in this year’s Mythical Five are UE Red Warriors’ Alvin Pasaol and J-Jay Alejandro of the NU Bulldogs. Pasaol made headlines all-season long because of his scoring sprees, highlighted by a 49-point outburst against La Salle. Meanwhile, Alejandro has evolved his game. From simply being known as a scorer, he has improved in different categories – rebounding, passing, defense, and leadership.
Wrapping up the Mythical Five is La Salle’s Ricci Rivero. The highlight-making sophomore ranked only eighth with 56.2 SPs but he moved past Adamson’s Papi Sarr, NU’s Issa Gaye, and UST’s Steve Akomo. The three centers did not make the cut because of a league ruling that only one foreigner is allowed to be named to the Mythical Five.
The Rookie of the Year award will be given to the UP Fighting Maroons’ Juan Gomez De Liaño with 46.6 SPs. The former UAAP Juniors MVP dazzled in his college debut season helping UP to a 6-8 record and a win away from a playoff battle for the last spot in the Final Four.