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Big man Mbala leads MVP race

By Jerome Lagunzad

La Salle’s big man Ben Mbala is on track for a second straight MVP plum.

Despite the Green Archers’ not-so impressive performance in the opening round of the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament, the 6-foot-7 Cameroonian is already leading by a mile for the highest individual award.

The 23-year-old Mbala has already accumulated 98.0 statistical points built around solid numbers of 30.4 points – a league-high – 11.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks – both third-best – despite missing La Salle’s first two matches.

If he can sustain his pace, Mbala could become the first back-to-back MVP winner since former Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena did the trick in 2014 and 2015.

Running a far second is Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena with 66.0 SPs, courtesy of his averages of 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists while leading the Blue Eagles’ impressive seven-game sweep of the first round.

Adamson center Papi Sarr, who finished as bridesmaid to Mbala in the MVP race last year, is at third spot with 65.17 SPs, thanks to his game-averages of 12.7 points and 13.2 rebounds in just six matches.

At fourth is National University gunner J-Jay Alejandro with 62.7 SPs built around his 17.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game in the Bulldogs’ 3-4 start.

University of the East’s Alvin Pasaol, who exploded for 49 points, the most productive offensive show in the league in recent memory, is at fifth spot so far with 61.0 SPs, thanks to his 22.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game output.

Rounding out the Top 10 are University of the Philippines’ Paul Desiderio with 57.14 SPs, Ateneo’s Chibueze Ikeh (55.57), NU’s Issa Gaye (53.28), La Salle’s Aljun Melecio (52.5) and University of Santo Tomas’ Steve Akomo (51.0).

Leading the race for the Rookie of the Year is UP’s prized guard Juan Gomez De Liaño with 39.57 SPs built around his 9.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists output per game.