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Ben Mbala shrugs off online outburst to impending second MVP

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Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Ben Mbala shrugs off online outburst to impending second MVP Basketball DLSU News UAAP  UAAP Season 80 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 80 DLSU Men's Basketball Ben Mbala

Far and away, De La Salle University’s Ben Mabala has been the best player in UAAP Season 80

The eye test proves it: the Cameroonian student-athlete still has no equal in his second year in the league, overwhelming anyone who dared guard him and those whom he chose to guard.

The stats back it up as well: when the league released the statiscal points tallies for MVP, Mbala was 30 full points ahead of the second place candidate, Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena. The 6-foot-7 big man averaged a league-leading 26.0 points, 13.1 rebounds (2nd), 1.3 steals (6th), and 2.5 blocks (2nd) to end the elimination round.

Mbala’s dominance, however, was not well-received. On social media, fans and current pro players scoffed at the idea of Mbala, a foreigner, again dominating a league they have pegged to produce the best local athletes.

Former Blue Eagle Nico Salva went as far to claim that there should be a separate award for “imports” like Mbala and for locals.

Even well-respected media men penned columns, lambasting the league and its member schools, saying that players like Mbala have detoriated the quality of competition in the UAAP and for depriving locals of spots on school rosters.

With borderline racist comments being slung his way, Mbala remains staunch, just like when he absorbs constant physical play in the paint.

“I honestly have nothing to say about that. I just stay focused on whatever I have to do for my team,” Mbala told Tiebreaker Times after La Salle barged into the Finals for the second straight year. “I won’t let the rest of the things affect me. I can’t be distracted by these type of things or what people say at this point in the season. I can’t let it affect me.

“That’s their opinion. I can’t stop them from thinking the way they’re thinking. That’s just life — everyone thinks differently. I just have to accept it and keep going.”

The Cameroon National Team standout finds solace in the supportive La Salle community.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Ben Mbala shrugs off online outburst to impending second MVP Basketball DLSU News UAAP  UAAP Season 80 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 80 DLSU Men's Basketball Ben Mbala

“I don’t really want to call it discrimination,” opined Mbala, who finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds in La Salle’s 82-75 win over Adamson. “La Salle treats me the right way and I’ve never had the problem of being discriminated. I’m fine with the school, I’m fine with the people around me. Whatever the other people from the other schoos say, I have nothing to say about them. I’ll just keep doing my thing and not let it affect me.

“People are really nice here. I just put the rest to the side.”

If anything, Mbala is raring for competition. Although he admits that he never aims to be MVP, those who do want to be the best player in the league need to earn it.

“If you’re not happy with me getting it back, then you should just probably play better.”

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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