UAAP Starting 5: Week 4
The end of the first round is nearing and the Final Four picture is starting to form.
Ateneo has been flawless and La Salle, well the champion is hell-bent on ending its rival’s streak.
Center: Ben Mbala (La Salle Green Archers)
Here’s a question, is there a center right now in the league better than the reigning MVP?
After representing Cameroon in the Fiba Afrobasket, Ben Mbala went back to business.
And that business was dominating the competition in the UAAP.
La Salle had just one game this week and Mbala punished University of Santo Tomas with 29 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks.
His performance came after the Green Archers’ 98-87 loss to University of the Philippines.
Forward: Thirdy Ravena (Ateneo Blue Eagles)
For the longest time, Thirdy Ravena has lived under the shadow of older brother Kiefer.
But this season, Thirdy has come to his own as Ateneo’s leader.
Thirdy isn’t the type of player to dominate opponents with scoring, but he does it in a variety of ways.
In the two games Ateneo played this week, Thirdy averaged a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds a game while also putting up 4.5 assists per outing.
Forward: Vince Tolentino (Ateneo Blue Eagles)
Vince Tolentino is not a scorer, but he proves his worth through his hustle plays.
The forward has made a name for Ateneo as a player who’s willing to do the dirty work.
Prior to facing NU, Tolentino averaged 6.4 points a game with most of his scoring options coming off drop passes from teammates and open layups.
Then Tolentino showed his offensive wares against the Bulldogs, punishing Matt Salem with constant drives to the basket en route to a career-high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
Guard: J-Jay Alejandro (NU Bulldogs)
Forget that J-Jay Alejandro spells his first name in a certain way, or that National University lost both of its games this week.
Alejandro almost single-handedly carried the Bulldogs in Week 4.
The wingman averaged 23.5 points this week as he tried to lift the Bulldogs in every conceivable offensive way against Ateneo and Far Eastern University.
Guard: Matt Nieto (Ateneo Blue Eagles)
Matt Nieto is no longer one-half of the Nieto twins, technically he is, but he’s now distinguished himself as man of his own.
The third-year Eagle has shown why he’s an invaluable piece of the Ateneo puzzle that has now won its first six games.
Nieto lit up against University of Santo Tomas and finished with a career-high 22 points, 12 of which came from long distance. He, then, followed it up with a decent 12-point outing against FEU.
Chibueze Ikeh (Ateneo Blue Eagles)
Boy oh boy have the Blue Eagles dominated this season and big man Chibueze Ikeh featured spectacularly in one of their better wins.
Ikeh had 18 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks in their 96-83 win over NU and not only did the 6-foot-8 center show his muscle underneath he also displayed a sweet stroke never before seen in his three-year career as he went 2-of-2 from deep.
Jordan Sta. Ana (UST Growling Tigers)
UST had the misfortune of facing the top two teams in the league, Ateneo and La Salle, in the same week and this led to its record plummeting to a sorry 0-6.
Bright spots are hard to come by in the Growling Tigers season but wingman Jordan Sta. Ana tries to change that.
Sta. Ana is not a shooter, and he knows it, with practically all of his points coming from drives and free throws and he averaged 17.5 points this week while putting his body on the line against the Blue Eagles and Green Archers’ frontlines.