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Mbala earns scribes’ nod

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La Salle's Ben Mbala (right) rebounds against Ateneo's Chris Porter during the UAAP Season 80 Round 2 match at Smart Araneta Coliseum, November 12, 2017 (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Ben Mbala of the DLSU Green Archers (right) battles Chris Porter of the Ateneo Blue Eagles for the rebound during their UAAP Season 80 Round 2 match at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on November 12, 2017. (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

De La Salle University’s Ben Mbala wouldn’t just let Ateneo through the express lane.

Scoring 28 points in a 10-of-20 field goal shooting, on top of 19 rebounds, six steals, and six blocks, the reigning MVP helped the Green Archers reign supreme, 79-76, and halt the Blue Eagles’ bid for a 14-0 elimination sweep.

Dominant on both ends of the court, Mbala was able to snag the last Chooks-to-Go UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week recognition, besting UP captain Paul Desiderio, UST slotman Steve Akomo, and FEU sniper Arvin Tolentino for the weekly individual award given by scribes from the country’s national broadsheets, tabloids, and online portals.

The Cameroonian bruiser’s worth for La Salle couldn’t be more overstated as he kept the ship afloat despite the Taft side falling behind by as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter and by seven, 69-76 in the final 2:24.

“We just wanted to win. We didn’t quit. Coach told us, never give up,” he said.

With coach Aldin Ayo fuming on the bench, Mbala and the rest of the Green Archers buckled down to work and finally solved the puzzle that was the Blue Eagles as they staged a killer 10-0 finishing kick before Mbala delivered the exclamation point — a game-saving defensive stop on Isaac Go with 10 seconds left on the clock.

“Coach told me to never quit on defense, to just always be there and try your best to give him the hardest shot he can have, and that’s what I tried my best to do,” he said.

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