SOLIDIFYING his standing as the most dominant player in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) right now, De La Salle University big man Ben Mbala snagged another accolade by being named player of the week.
Punctuated by his all-around performance in their 79-76 win over rivals Ateneo Blue Eagles last Sunday that effectively derailed the latter’s bid to sweep the elimination round and earn a direct pass to the finals, Mr. Mbala got the nod for the weekly plum given by the UAAP press corps.
Hitting 50% (10-of-12) of his field goals, Cameroonian Mr. Mbala wound up with a game-high 28 points to go along with 19 rebounds, six steals and six blocks to thwart Ateneo in its push.
Just as the defending champions Archers found the going tough early in the fourth period, Mr. Mbala came to the rescue to steady their ship, allowing them to come up big in the closeout to secure the win. “We just wanted to win. We didn’t quit. Coach [Aldin Ayo] told us, never give up,” Mr. Mbala said as he spoke of what did it for them in the crucial game.
“Coach told me to never quit on defense, to just always be there … He told me to stay composed and not overdo everything,” he added.
In winning the weekly award, which is considered by many as a prelude to him winning his second straight league most valuable player award, Mr. Mbala beat out Paul Desiderio of University of the Philippines, Steve Akomo of University of Santo Tomas, and Arvin Tolentino of Far Eastern University.
Mr. Mbala and the Archers right now are preparing for the Adamson Soaring Falcons in their Final Four encounter beginning on Saturday. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo