UAAP Starting 5: Week 6
It’s the second round and the Final Four picture is starting to form.
Ateneo and La Salle are well ahead of the competition sitting at No.1 and No.2, respectively. Adamson University and Far Eastern University are in a tight race for No. 3 while National University and University of the Philippines duke it out for No.4.
University of the East can still gun for a surprise entrance while University of Santo Tomas is one loss away falling out of contention.
Well, here are the seven players responsible for those scenarios:
Center: Ben Mbala (De La Salle Green Archers)
Reigning MVP Ben Mbala produced a lackluster performance by his standardsin Week 5.
The high-octane Green Archer, though, reminded the public that they better get used to him as the league’s most dominating force putting a commanding display in Week 6.
Mbala led La Salle to a 2-0 week averaging 22.5 points and 16.5 rebound.
He also showed his perimeter defense in their 85-62 victory over University of the Philippines as he hounded Paul Desiderio for the full 94 feet of the parquet floor.
Mbala, after watching Desiderio torch La Salle for 30 points in UP’2 98-87 first round win, limited the UP skipper to just seven points on 2-of-13 shooting.
Forward: Thirdy Ravena (Ateneo Blue Eagles)
Ateneo played just one game this week and Thirdy Ravena shone the brightest among the Blue Eagles.
In Ateneo’s 71-59 beating of Adamson University, Ravena was the lone Blue Eagle to finish in double figures with 15 points to go along with nine rebounds.
Forward: Mark Olayon (UE Red Warriors)
Oh how University of the East become sudden Final Four contenders.
The Red Warriors tacked on two straight wins and in honor of those couple of victories, there are two UE representatives on this list.
First is lanky forward Mark Olayon.
Olayon led UE in its 90-77 stunner of NU that saw the Red Warriors improve to 2-6 and he did that by stuffing the stat sheets.
The versatile forward put up 17 points, six rebounds, and eight assists against the Bulldogs.
Guard: Ricci Rivero (De La Salle Green Archers)
Ricci Rivero reminded everyone this week that there is more to La Salle than just Mbala.
Rivero showed he can become another focal point in the Green Archers’ offense and be a terror on defense when he put up 20 points, four assists, and five steals in their 75-73 squeaker over FEU.
He then closed out the week with another 20-point game against the Fighting Maroons.
Guard: Mark Maloles (UE Red Warriors)
UE has another Red Warrior on this list, and it’s another Mark.
Mark Maloles helped Olayon play closer for the Red Warriors in their win over NU when he put up 13 points, five in the fourth, and six assists.
The reserve point guard also took over the responsibilities of Philip Manalang as the latter struggled with foul trouble against the Bulldogs.
Issa Gaye (NU Bulldogs)
Mbala has established himself as the best center this UAAP season and the label of “second-best” is a virtual toss up.
Issa Gaye is one of those big men who are gunning to claim possession of the second place in the podium.
Although coming off a 90-77 loss, Gaye produced marvelous numbers against the Red Warriors finishing with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks.
Ibrahim Ouattara (UP Fighting Maroons)
Outtara is another promising big man.
The Fighting Maroons split their two games this week and Outtara showed respectable consistency in the two matches.
Outtara quietly averaged nine points, 11.5 boards, and 2.5 blocks to help UP to a 4-5 record.