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DLSU insists Mbala eligible for UAAP 81st season

MANILA, Philippines — The La Salle camp maintained that Ben Mbala deserves to play out his last year of eligibility and decried efforts to bar the two-time MVP from UAAP Season 81 using what it felt was an unfair rule.

“Under the rules, he has one year left and he’s looking forward to playing one more year. He has offers in Europe, the US and the Cameroonian national team during the Fiba World Cup Qualifiers but he said his priority is La Salle and wants to give back to La Salle,” said a La Salle team official.

“He wants to finish his education and last year of eligibility and try to win the championship back for DLSU. Hope he gets the chance,” he added.

Mbala’s status for next year was put on doubt after some quarters brought out the old “seven-years-out-of-high-school” provision that could possibly make the Cameroonian ineligible.

The La Salle camp said the rule was already “recommended for repeal” at the end of Season 79.

“The board repealed the rule, now they’re trying to revive it to prevent Ben Mbala from playing again. This smacks of singling out one player, it’s so unfair and inhuman,” said the source.

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He explained that the K-12 program, which added two years of high school education, rendered the “seven-years-out-of-high school” rule “academic.” A high school athlete, he said, would enter college two years older and per UAAP rule, he would have five playing years and has until the age of 25 to complete his eligibility.

“With the rule of the UAAP limiting age of athletes to 25 years old and with five years in the senior division, these two provisions already cover the limitation for the athletes, and safeguard against overstaying athletes,” he said.

A transferee from Southwestern, Mbala had spent two years of residency with La Salle under the old rules before leading the Archers to the championship in 2016 and to second place recently.

The source said Mbala had only used up four of the five years and he would only be 23 by the time the next season unwraps.

“Four years ago they stalled Ben Mbala with the extra year of residency, now there’s another attempt. It’s unfair to the guy, who is actually a good person and an honor student,” he said.

“Hope the board will see the value of Ben Mbala,” he added.

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