Mbala shrugs off awards in pursuit of team glory
MANILA, Philippines – De La Salle University big man Ben Mbala won all individual awards in the 2016 FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup, but "The Kid from Cameroon" insisted that the Green Archers' triumph was what truly mattered.
Ahead of their Finals showdown against Arellano University, Mbala was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, Best Defensive Player, and joined teammates Jeron Teng and Abu Tratter – along with Arellano's Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado – in the Mythical Five.
He lived up to his MVP-billing in the title game, scoring 28 points, grabbing 26 rebounds, and rejecting a tournament-record eight blocks to power La Salle to an 86-74 victory.
Mbala ended his FilOil campaign with 226 points – the most a player has scored in a single tournament. Yet when informed of his record-breaking performance after the contest, he did not seem too concerned.
"I'm not really aware of things that I'm doing right now," he said. "I'm just really trying to focus on what coach is asking me to do. Coach wants me to be present everywhere, defensively and offensively."
"I'm not looking for points or blocks – I'm just really looking to help the team and follow what the coach is asking me to do," he stressed.
Mbala's imposing presence has made La Salle the odds-on favorite to win the UAAP championship in Season 79, especially as he plays in Aldin Ayo's "House of Chaos" system and teams up with Tratter and Teng to anchor the Green Archers.