De La Salle recruit Ben Mbala puts UAAP eligibility at risk after playing in Pacquiao-organized league
La Salle athletic director Edwin Reyes has confirmed that Ben Mbala played in a commercial league organized by boxing hero Manny Pacquiao in General Santos City. Photo by Jan Salihan

A DE La Salle official has confirmed that the school is looking into a stint by recruit Ben Mbala in a tournament in General Santos City that endangers his eligibility to play for the Green Archers this season.

Edwin Reyes, La Salle’s representative to the UAAP board, on Monday confirmed long-standing rumors that Mbala played in a league in General Santos City organized by Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

Reyes, however, said La Salle is still in the process of gathering information related to Mbala’s stint in General Santos City and declined comment on how it could impact on the Cameroonian's future with the team.

“We are getting all the details,” Reyes told in a text message.

Rumors have long been making rounds since late last year that Mbala, who is expected to play for the Green Archers next season, saw action along with several other collegiate imports in the General Santos City tournament.

Sources said Karim Abdul of University of Santo Tomas and Moustapha Arafat of University of the East also saw action in that league.

However, the issue is expected to impact Mbala's future since a UAAP rule bars players taking up residency from playing in any league unless it is for the school or there is a permission from the school league’s board.

The Cameroonian center is in his final year of his two-year residency with La Salle and is already eligible to play this year for UAAP Season 78.

But if it is proven that Mbala played in the league, the prized La Salle recruit from Southwestern University risks having to take another year of residency, as per UAAP rules.

In this case, Mbala may only play for the Green Archers in 2016.

Reyes said La Salle only learned about Mbala playing in General Santos City after the tournament was finished.


“We didn’t know about it until it was over,” said Reyes.

The Green Archers have been anticipating the arrival of Mbala to the UAAP team since being recruited from SWU in 2013. Recently, Mbala played for La Salle in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League with the Green Archers finishing in second place behind San Beda.

A UAAP official said the decision on whether Mbala will be eligible or not can only be decided during the eligibility meeting that will be held weeks before the start of the men’s basketball tournament sometime in August.

“Hindi pa naman ‘yan pag-uusapan sa board dahil wala pang eligibility,” said the official.

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