By Jerome Lagunzad
Dominant all season long, La Salle’s Cameroonian center Ben Mbala clinched a second straight Most Valuable Player award in runaway fashion, a feat that put him in an illustrious cast of certified UAAP superstars.
Despite missing their first two matches, the 6-foot-7 Mbala still amassed a total of 96.58 statistical points built around a league-leading 26.0 points on top of 13.1 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.3 assists and as many steals, standing tall on the Green Archers’ title-retention bid.
Mblala thus became the first player in the country’s most prestigious collegiate league to achieve the feat since former Ateneo ace guard Kiefer Ravena, who is set to make his pro league debut this year, did the trick in 2014 and 2015.
Mbala, 22, also joined several Green Archers big men who also made such impressive accomplishment like Don Allado (1998 and 1999), Mark Telan (1996 and 1997 and Jun Limpot (1989 and 1990).
Other back-to-back MVP winners in recent memory are Ateneo’s Rich Alvarez (2000 and 2001), Far Eastern University’s Arwind Santos (2004 and 2005) and National University’s Ray Parks (2011 and 2012).
Finishing a distant second was Ravena’s younger brother Thirdy who accounted for 66.50 SPs, courtesy of his solid averages of 14.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.0 steal, leading the Blue Eagles’ near flawless performance in the eliminations and into the top spot in the Final Four round.
NU co-skipper J-Jay Alejandro came in at third overall 63.85 SPs built around his all-around showing of 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, a league-best 6.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game in his final tour of duty with the Bulldogs.
University of the East star Alvin Pasaol, who exploded for 49 points against La Salle in one of the finest offensive performances in league history, finished at fourth with 63.42 SPs courtesy of his 20.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.6 assists output per game, emerging as the lone bright spot for the struggling Red Warriors.