‘Big Ben’ Mbala returning to play for TRMH-CMO in Araw hoops

Ben Mbala will be back afterall.

The Royal Mandaya Hotel-City Mayor’s Office DLSU Green Archers co-owner Glenn Escandor revealed on Saturday that the prolific 6-7 Cameroonian will be back to suit up for the team.

“Yes, Ben Mbala is playing for the Green Archers in Davao,” said Escandor, who shares ownership of the outfit with long-time partner Secretary Christopher “Bong” Go.

The explosive Mbala, who was a major factor in La Salle’s title conquest in the recent UAAP wars, was earlier reported to have received a call up for Cameroon national team duty.

Apparently, DLSU basketball godfather Danding Cojuangco prevailed upon Mbala to stay, according to Escandor who is also a board of trustee member of the Samahang Basketball ng Piipinas (SBP).

With Mbala back in the fold, the reigning UAAP Season 79 champion De La Salle Green Archers are all set to defend its title in the forthcoming 80th Araw ng Dabaw Invitational basketball tournament set March 23-26 at the Davao City Recreation Center.

The Green Archers, who beat archrival Ateneo de Manila in the finals last December, will be representing The Royal Mandaya Hotel-CMO outfit.

However, crowd favorite Jeron Teng, who was named UAAP Finals MVP, will not be back. Teng is now playing in the D League for AMA Computer College and is eyeing the next PBA Draft. Another player who wil not be returning is Thomas Torres.

Coach Aldin Ayo will be steering the Green Archers who will now be in full force with the fiery Ben Mbala back. Former Ateneo de Davao coach Miggy Solitaria will sit as one of Ayo’s regular assistants.

The other members of the squad are Justine Baltazar, Andrei Caracut,
Mark Dyke, Jollo Go, Andrew Langston, Aljun Melecio, Kib Monalbo, Brent Paraiso, Jason Perkins, Prince Rivero, Ricci Rivero and Abu Tratter.

Tournament commissioner Cholo Elegino said the other teams which have confirmed participation are former UAAP champion National University Bulldogs, University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and Montana Pawnshop.

Still awaiting confirmation are Pacman Warrriors and the Ateneo Eagles.

Elegino said from four teams, the tournament will be expanded to six and will have two groups playing single round robin. The top teams after the eliminations square off for the championship where a P100,000 top kitty and a trophy awaits the winner.

The runner-up receives P60,000, second runner-up, P40,000, third runner-up P30,000 and the last two squads P20,000 each.

The tournament is sanctioned by the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas 11.