The UAAP 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament will always be remembered as the time when the University of the Philippines finally broke through.
Already with their first playoff berth in 21 years and first MVP in 32 years, the Fighting Maroons could now also boast of having two players in the Mythical 5.
Of course, Season MVP Bright Akhuetie is one of those in the Mythical Team as his per game counts of 18.9 points, 14.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 steals would attest.
Joining him there is teammate Juan Gomez de Liano who averaged 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. He was also the first player since 2006 to tally a triple-double.
Akhuetie finished first in the MVP race with 82.5 Statistical Points (SPs) while Juan GDL wound up fourth with 63.9 SPs.
Sandwiched between them in terms of SPs is Alvin Pasaol who was the lone bright spot in a second straight dismal season for UE. He normed 24.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 1.0 assists for 74.6 SPs.
Rounding out the Mythical 5 are De La Salle University’s Justine Baltazar (61.3 SPs) who posted numbers of 13.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and 1.3 assists per game and Adamson University’s Jerrick Ahanmisi (58.4 SPs) who posted numbers of 18.3 markers, 3.8 boards, and 1.6 dimes per game.
Angelo Kouame of Ateneo de Manila University actually placed second in the MVP race with 76.2 SPs, but by virtue of a league rule that states that only one foreign student-athlete can be included in the Mythical Team, missed out on both the MVP and the Mythical Team.
No other Blue Eagle was in the top five – the nearest to there already being Thirdy Ravena who had 55.2 SPs at the 10th spot.
As such, this is the first time since 2013 that Katipunan would have no representative in the Mythical Team.
Of course, this isn’t that farfetched to think about as the defending champions’ trademark has always been balance.
This season, Ateneo’s leading scorer is already Kouame at 14.4 points per game. This, compared to the league’s leading scorer, Pasaol, who averages 24.4 points per game.
After the Ivorian rookie recruit, five Blue Eagles contribute somewhere between five to 12 points per game.
Written by Norman Lee Benjamin Riego
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