Ben Mbala was worth the wait!
6-foot-7 Cameroonian student-athlete Ben Mbala of the De La Salle University Green Archers is set to be crowned as the UAAP Season 79 Men’s Basketball tournament Most Valuable Player. And the race to the crown was not even close.
In Tiebreaker Times’ unofficial tally, Mbala accumulated 92.43 statistical points, 22.57 SPs ahead of runner-up Papi Sarr of the Adamson University (69.86).
The 22-year-old was tops in the league in the scoring department (20.6 ppg), field goal percentage (54.6 percent), rebounds (16.0 rpg), blocks (2.4 bpg) and free throws made (7.1/game). Moreover, he has gobbled up 9.5 defensive rebounds per outing, making him the league’s Defensive Player of the Year as well.
Joining Mbala in this season’s all-UAAP team is Sarr. The Adamson big man posted norms of 14.4 point per game (sixth) on 48.3 percent shooting (second) to go along with 14.9 rebounds (seconds) and 1.0 blocks (sixth) per outing.
Mbala’s teammate and King Archer Jeron Teng (57.33 SPs) will also be part of the Mythical Five. Even if he missed two games, the 22-year-old retained his spot as the second-leading scorer of the league with 16.9 points per game on 40.9 percent shooting (eighth). He also topped the league in field goals made within the arc with 6.9 per game.
The University of the Philippines will also have a reason to celebrate, as Paul Desiderio’s breakout season (55.14 SPs) is set to be rewarded with an individual accolade. The Cebuano finished the season in the top 10 in three major categories: points (15.4 – third), rebounds (7.1 – ninth), and assists (2.6 – sixth).
Rounding up the Mythical Five is King Tamaraw and Gilas cadet member Raymar Jose (53.64 SPs). The 6-foot-5 workhorse is the only local this season to average a double-double with 11.1 points per game (tenth) and 11.0 rebounds (third).
The sixth to tenth-ranked players in the league after the elimination round are: Alfred Aroga of NU (49.5 SPs), Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo (49.14), Jett Manuel of UP (46.07), Louie Vigil of UST (46) and Prince Orizu of FEU (44.64).
Jerrick Ahanmisi of Adamson University is set to be honored as this year’s top rookie, bucking a late-surge by Aljun Melecio of La Salle. Based on the unofficial tally, the Filipino-American accumulated 44.5 SPs compared to 36.57 SPs by the former UAAP Juniors MVP.
Ahanmisi finished the regular season as the deadliest shooter in the league, knocking down 37.8 percent of his triples while efficiently shooting 94.3 percent from the stripe. He was seventh in the league in scoring at 13.4 markers a game on a 45.7 percent clip (fourth).
Finally, if there’s an award for top floor general, it should go to La Salle’s Kib Montalbo. The Bacolod-native topped the league in assists at 3.0 per game and steals at 3.0 as well.