UST's new Cebu pick-up is an old rival of Ben Mbala

Paul Lintag on Nov 10, 2016 03:52 PM
UST's new Cebu pick-up is an old rival of Ben Mbala
FROM CEBU TO MANILA. Steve Akomo and Ben Mbala matched up in the CESAFI Finals four years ago, they get to at each other again in Manila starting in 2017. (Akomo photo from the Varsitarian)

It may have been just coincidence but UST is taking cues from La Salle in terms of finding its next great reinforcement in the UAAP.

After they discovered a gem on their own campus in Karim Abdul, the Tigers got a page from the Green Archers' book and went to Cebu to find a new center to anchor their team.

And making his debut in Season 80, that new center for UST goes by the name of Steve Akomo.

What's interesting however, is that Akomo is an old rival of La Salle's Ben Mbala in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI).

Akomo, playing for Cebu powerhouse University of Visayas, faced off against Mbala's Southwestern University in the 2012 CESAFI Finals.

The Cobras won their first league title after winning a best-of-5 series in five games and SWU went on to the Final Four of the PCCL tournament later that year, where Mbala was discovered and ultimately ended up playing for La Salle.

With Mbala enjoying great success with the Green Archers in his first UAAP season, Akomo is hoping that he gets to match some of his old rival's work in Manila.

"I played against him [Mbala], it's true that he really developed his basketball. The last time we played in Cebu was 2012, we fought against him in the Finals. I know myself and I know Ben very well, hopefully we will enjoy next year's games," Akomo said of his connection with Big Ben.

Akomo, who will have two years to play for UST, is not at all pressured as he tries to help the Tigers rebound from a disastrous Season 79.

In fact, he's embracing the huge expectations that will surely be put on his massive shoulders.

"I'm never getting pressure. The only pressure that I can find is in my mind. It's about myself, I have to pressure myself to be the best, to do good and to help my team. That is the first pressure that I ask. Another pressure is coming from the coaching staff, coming from the fans, when you're just new somewhere, you have to improve yourself," he said.

Largely an unknown in Manila, Akomo is also incredibly confident of his skills, saying that one needs to only do a quick Google search to see what made him Cebu's top recruits.

"I don't have anything to hide you know, I think if somebody want to know how I play, they must go to Youtube and check out. They will see what I got," the 6'9" center said.

With UST, Akomo will be forming a curious Cebu 1-2 punch with incoming junior Zachary Huang who was recruited straight out of Ateneo de Cebu.


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Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8

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