For the second straight year, De La Salle University's Ben Mbala emerged as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 men's basketball tournament.
This, after "Big Ben" refused to let their archrivals, the Ateneo de Manila University, go through the express lane to the Finals.
He punctuated another MVP season with a 28-point, 19-rebound, six-assist and six-block performance in La Salle's come-from-behind 79-76 win over the Blue Eagles last Sunday that denied the latter of a sweep and an outright finals berth.
Dominant on both ends of the court, Mbala was able to snag the last Chooks-to-Go/SMART Sports-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.
Mbala's value for La Salle was in full display in their game against Ateneo.
Mbala compiled 96.5833 statistical points in 12 games for the No. 2 Green Archers to lock in his second consecutive MVP plum. "We didn't quit. Coach told us, never give up", he said.
The Blue Eagles were close to sweeping the elimination round, but lost to the Green Archers on Sunday, November 12, preventing a stepladder format knockout round and an automatic finals spot for Ateneo. "We didn't quit. Coach told us, 'Never give up'".
Ateneo's Thirdy Ravena was a distant second with 66.5000 SPs, according to the league's statistical provider Imperium Technology.
"He told me to stay composed and not overdo everything".
The Green Archers, armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, now proceed to the Final Four where they meet third-seeded Adamson on Saturday, with an eye towards advancing to the finals.