Ben Mbala

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Ben Mbala
Free agent
PositionCenter
Personal information
Born (1995-07-13) July 13, 1995 (age 24)[1]
NationalityCameroonian
Listed height203 cm (6 ft 8 in)
Listed weight104 kg (229 lb)
Career information
CollegeSouthwestern University (2012–2013)
De La Salle University (2016–2017)
Playing career2017–present
Career history
2017–2018Fuerza Regia
2018Chorale Roanne
2018Seoul Samsung Thunders
Career highlights and awards

Benoit Mbala is a Cameroonian basketball player who last played for the Seoul Samsung Thunders of the Korean Basketball League. He previously played for the De La Salle Green Archers in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), Fuerza Regia of the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional, and the Chorale Roanne of LNB Pro B

Early life[edit]

Mbala is a native of Yaoundé, Cameroon.[2] He was first into football until the age of 13 when he grew about 6 feet 2 inches tall and switched to playing basketball. His older brother who manages the junior team of their municipality urged him to play for the team. He attended Institute Ndi Samba for his high school studies and made attempts to join his school's varsity team on his first two years. He continued to play for his municipality's team and managed to play for his high school in his last two years of secondary education.[3]

Career[edit]

Camp in South Africa[edit]

Mbala participated twice at an annual national basketball camp organized by Luc Mbah a Moute. He failed in his goal of making the All-Star Selection on his first year of participation but achieved it on his second try when he was chosen as one of the top 20 players of the camp. He was further declared as one of the top five players of the Mbah a Moute's camp, which gave him the opportunity to participate in the Basketball Without Borders camp in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2011.[3]

At the South African Basketball Without Borders camp, he won the African MVP Honors. His feat would have enabled him to study in the United States under a scholarship but visa issues prevented him from studying there.[4]

College career in the Philippines[edit]

Southwestern University[edit]

Moustapha Arafat, a former player from the Philippine University of the East[3] invited Mbala to play basketball in the Philippines. He heeded to the invite and went to study in a school in Cebu City in the Philippines instead. Mbala played for the Cobras of the Cebu-based Southwestern University (SWU)[2] in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) in 2012. He led his school to its first CESAFI title in the history of the collegiate tournament winning over the University of the Visayas. At the 2012 Philippine Collegiate Champions League he led his team to a fourth-place finish.[3]

De La Salle University[edit]

He was recruited by the De La Salle University, after Mbala led his school's team to victory in a match against the Manila-based school's team[4] in a summer tournament held in Manila in 2012. The 6'8" Center plays for La Salle at the University Athletic Association of the Philippines basketball tournament.[2]

As a transfer student, Mbala had to serve a two-year residency. A one-year ban was imposed on him by the UAAP after he played at the Pacquiao Challenge Cup in December 2014 which was against the collegiate league's rules for players serving residency which caused him not to play for his school at UAAP Season 78.[2] He was named part of the Mythical Five at the 2016 Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup which was won by his team.

At Season 79, Mbala made his UAAP debut for La Salle,[5] and led the team to an 8–0 record halfway though the tournament and was the favorite to become the first foreigner to win the MVP Award since Anthony Williams of the FEU Tamaraws bagging the award in 1981[2] and he is the first Lasallian player who went on to win the MVP award since Don Allado who last won the said award in 1999.[5] He was also the MVP in Season 80 despite his team losing to Ateneo in the finals.[6]

On 22 December 2017, Mbala announced his decision to not use his final year of eligibility and leave La Salle after five years. Mbala had one year of eligibility left to play for La Salle in Season 81.[6] However the UAAP board is set to discuss the "seven years out of high school" rule of the collegiate year which would have rendered him ineligible for the next season if the rule is abolished.[7]

Professional career[edit]

Fuerza Regia[edit]

Two days before Mbala announced his intention to leave La Salle, Fuerza Regia already announced via Instagram that Mbala will play for them.[8] Mbala had a one-month stint with Fuerza Regia.[9] According to his own account, Mbala was hindered by his veteran teammates while with Fuerza which made him unhappy with his stay with the Mexican ball club.[10]

Chorale Roanne[edit]

French ballclub Chorale Roanne of LNB Pro B announced they have signed Mbala mid-January 2018.[11] For Roanne, Mbala played 25 games where he averaged 11.6 points on 54 percent shooting and made an average of 5.6 rebounds per game.[12] Mbala was made a role player in Chorale Roanne and was offered a contract renewal. However Mbala decided to move to South Korea after accepting an offer from the Seoul Samsung Thunders.[10]

Seoul Samsung Thunders[edit]

On July 9, 2018, the Seoul Samsung Thunders of the Korean Basketball League announced that they have signed Mbala.[12]

International career[edit]

The Cameroon Basketball Federation sent a letter to Mbala in June 2016 inviting him to participate in a training camp in Yaounde, Cameroon and two tournaments in China as preparation of the Cameroon national basketball team's participation at the 2017 FIBA Africa Championship. As of that time, there were no rules in the UAAP preventing players to play for their national teams. While expressing gratitude for the invite, Mbala declined as he did not want to risk his eligibility to play in the UAAP and had to maintain academic requirements to remain playing for his collegiate team.[13]

It was announced on February 5, 2017 that the Cameroon national team has included Mbala in their 30-man pool for the qualifiers and main tournament of the 2017 FIBA Africa Championship.[2][14] He played for the national team in the aforementioned continental tournament.[15]

Awards[edit]

On January 26, 2017, Mbala was named the Smart College Player of the Year Award at the Collegiate Basketball Awards.[16][17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Benoit MBALA
  2. ^ a b c d e f Orellana, Joel (12 October 2017). "'Big Ben'". BusinessMirror. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Manzano, Claro Ignacio (28 July 2016). "DLSU's Mbala eyed for Cameroon five". The LaSallian. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Benoit 'Big Ben' Mbala: The Cameroonian lighting up Philippines collegiate basketball". The National. Abu Dhabi Media. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Big Ben makes Cameroonian national team pool". ABS-CBN Sports. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b Go, Beatrice. "Ben Mbala announces exit from DLSU". Rappler. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  7. ^ Leongson, Randolph (22 December 2017). "Ben Mbala leaves La Salle, joins Mexican ball club". Inquirer.net. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Mbala leaves La Salle for Mexican ball club". CNN Philippines. December 22, 2017.
  9. ^ "Ben Mbala headed to France for a 'better opportunity'". ABS-CBN Sports. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  10. ^ a b Henson, Joaquin (24 September 2018). "UAAP MVP Mbala hopes to play as PBA import". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Ben Mbala signs with French club Chorale Roanne Basket". ABS-CBN News. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Ben Mbala signs with Korea's Samsung Thunders". ABS-CBN News. 10 July 2018. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  13. ^ Henson, Joaquin (15 June 2016). "DLSU's Mbala eyed for Cameroon five". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  14. ^ Panerio, Jonas (9 February 2017). "Former Cesafi imports in Cameroon nat'l pool". Cebu Daily News. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Green Archer Ben Mbala leads Cameroon in 2017 FIBA Afrobasket". Rappler. 10 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Cameroonian Ben Mbala captures College Player of the Year Award". Fox Sport Asia. 26 January 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Embiid, Mbah a Moute and Siakam in Cameroon's list for FIBA AfroBasket 2017". FIBA. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.