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Basketball

Ben Mbala bids La Salle farewell, turns pro

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Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Ben Mbala bids La Salle farewell, turns pro Basketball DLSU News UAAP  UAAP Season 81 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 81 DLSU Men's Basketball Ben Mbala

One of the most dominant foreign student-athletes to grace the UAAP has ended his collegiate career

After five years and two UAAP seasons, Cameroonian student-athlete Ben Mbala has left the De La Salle University Green Archers as he decided to turn pro and join Mexican club team Fuerza Regia de Monterrey.

Fuerza is based in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon playing in top-tier Mexican league Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional.

In a tweet, the 22-year-old expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the community and the team.

“After five years, two incredible UAAP seasons, and, of course, countless unforgettable memories, it is with a heavy heart that I announce that the time has come for me to move on from De La Salle University and the Green Archers.

“I want to publicly thank boss ECJ [Eduardo Cojuangco], the managers, coach Aldin [Ayo], the rest of the coaching staff, and my teammates for all the incredulous opportunities that I have been given during my time there,” Mbala said. “You all have made my time in the Philippine truly worthwhile.”

Coming off a standout campaign with the Southwestern University Cobras, Mbala transferred to La Salle during the off-season of 2012. He sat out three years, including an extra year due to him being seen playing in an outside league.

Mbala though was as good as advertised, posting norms of 20.6 points on 54.6 percent shooting to go along with 16.0 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, and 1.4 steals back in Season 79. He helped the Green Archers win the UAAP Men’s Basketball crown and was crowned as the season Most Valuable Player.

The following year, the 6-foot-8 stretch big man was tapped by the Cameroonian national team for the 2017 Afrobasket. Mbala missed two games last season but was still able to raise his norms to 26.0 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. There was no golden finish for him and his team however, falling to arch-rivals Ateneo in three games in the Finals. Still, he was able to bring home his second MVP plum.

There were questions raised during the off-season as Mbala’s documents stated that he graduated high school back in 2011, making him ineligible for the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Basketball tournament due to the “five playing years in a span of seven years”-rule.

With Mbala going pro, there will be no board room talks about the matter as he has already foregone his eligibility.

“I know my choice might come as a surprise to many, and I have to admit, the decision to leave was the toughest I have had to make after being with La Salle for so many years,” he furthered.

“But I feel that this decision is best for the next stage in my career and development.”

Even after all the drama that surrounded him, Mbala remains grateful to both La Salle and the country.

“I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to represent the Green Archers and will always be La Sallian at heart.”

Besides Mbala, fellow big man Abu Tratter, who has exhausted his years of eligibility, will not be part of the Season 81 team.

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