What we know about the (mysterious) Ben Mbala—so far
Barry Viloria on Oct 04, 2016 04:39 PM
Even without Jeron Teng in the last game, this import helped La Salle sweep the first round for the first time since 2002. Who else here got curious over this new UAAP ‘it’ boy? (Photos taken from Mbala's Instagram account @benmbala)
With ever-reliable veterans like Jeron Teng, Thomas Torres, and Kib Montalbo on the De La Salle Green Archers’ solid lineup plus a formidable coach in Aldin Ayo, most of the teams at the #UAAP79 press conference more than a month ago quickly named the green team as a giant force this season. The prediction—and, possibly, fear—gave it all away recently, with La Salle coming out strong with a first round sweep.
What we didn’t see coming: The new hero on the squad, Ben Mbala.
Yeah, he’s that dude who made headlines after transforming the season’s first Ateneo-La Salle game—a rather controversial match, if you know what we mean, but that’s another story—into an exhibition show. Finishing off a team effort with Torres and then Montalbo as court accomplices in the third quarter, Mbala blasted a dunk that pulled the lead from 74-55 to 76 for La Salle.
The panel and those watching live went crazy, and Twitter and basically the entire Internet exploded at the sight of that hair-raising slam. What else do we know about Mbala so far aside from that feat?
He’s an import.
The center stands 6’8” at 22 years old. And, yes, Mbala is Cameroonian like many past and present UAAP big men, NU’s Alfred Aroga and UST’s Karim Abdul. He specifically hails from the capital Yaounde. In a 2012 online interview with Athletic Motion, Mbala said it was former UE player Moustapha Arafat, “a very close friend,” who convinced him to try basketball in the Philippines.
He’s played in Cebu.
Mbala may have arrived to mainstream consciousness just now, but he’s already been here playing ball in the past years. He used to play for at the Southwestern University Cobras, bolstering them to their first Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. title ever.
He ruled other leagues.
Mbala then chose to play for La Salle in the UAAP, but the league’s residency rule would later keep him put for some years. Outside the UAAP, though, he shone bright in the PCCL then under Juno Sauler and next the FilOil with the team’s newest coach. At the 2016 Filioil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup, Mbala helped the team nab the crown and won himself the MVP and Best Defensive Player plums.
He’s a family man.
Sure, he’s now a star athlete, but Mbala didn’t come to this status without the sacrifices. In the same article, he said it was “very hard for my family to let me go because I was the youngest.” The big man with a big heart is never shy online about his love for his fam!
He seems like an easygoing guy.
While we have yet to see more of him in interview, guestings, or maybe a viral video, online Mbala seems a friendly teammate and an outgoing bud. He’s an adventure seeker who equates working out, vacationing with his teammates, and fooling around with Snapchat to fun!
He loves LeBron.
Yes, that spectacular dunk was no coincidence—Mbala got his being a showman from who else but King James?