THE impending transfer of Southwestern University star Ben Mbala to La Salle and play in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament has the full blessing of the school.
No less than SWU chairman of the board Maris Aznar Holopainen made the confirmation a few days after reports came out that the Cameroonian center is bound for the Taft-based school.
While Mbala has yet to officially enroll at La Salle, Holopainen said the entire SWU community is one in supporting the talented big man in his new endeavor, even if it meant losing the team’s brightest star responsible for giving the Cobras their first and only Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) championship.
“At this stage, Benoit's transfer is unofficial as our school year is still ongoing and La Salle's enrollment processes need to be completed. However, we confirm that if indeed he does move, it is with our full support,” said the school official, who is a regular fixture in SWU games.
“It is our belief that we - school owners, administrators, and coaching staff - even in our zeal to win championships, should not forget that the ultimate goal of our educational establishment is to provide the best opportunities for our students.”
Holopainen stressed it is in Mbala's best interest to move to La Salle, and that he’ll always be a part of the SWU family even if he’s already wearing the famed green-and-white jersey of the Archers.
“In the case of Ben, we feel that his possible move to one of the foremost universities in the Philippines - both in terms of excellent academic offering and a world-class sports program - is the best opportunity for him at this stage.
“The SWU community will of course be sad to see him leave. He knows that wherever he goes, he will always be part of the SWU family. We are sure that the Cobras will always be part of his family too, and that the Cesafi 2012 title will remain memorable to him. We are extremely proud of Ben and he will continue to be an ambassador for SWU's good name. He will be our Green Cobra,” added Holopainen.
Mbala's departure will definitely leave a deep hole in the Cobras' title defense next season.
But Holopainen assured the team and the school's supporters that they will exhaust every opportunity to make the team ready and competitive.
“We assure the Cobras' supporters and fans that the team will continue to make you proud and that training is in full swing for next school year. Despite Ben's possible departure, the Cobras are still setting their sight on a repeat championship.”