Ateneo center Kouame crowned UAAP Most Valuable Player

ATENEO slotman Ange Kouame was crowned as the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 84 Most Valuable Player on Wednesday in the awarding ceremony before the highly-anticipated Game 2 of the men’s basketball tournament finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Mr. Kouame, also the Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player, posted steady numbers of 12.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and a league-best 2.4 blocks in 16 games for No. 1 Ateneo to secure the coast-to-coast victory.

Overall, the 6-foot-11 Mr. Kouame amassed 69.2 statistical points (SPs) to become the first Ateneo MVP since Kiefer Ravena captured back-to-back plums in 2014 and 2015.

Joining Mr. Kouame in the position-less Mythical Team were La Salle’s Justine Baltazar (63.0) and Michael Phillips (54.643) with UP’s Zavier Lucero (62.0) and Carl Tamayo (57.643), who claimed the Rookie of the Year honor.

Mr. Tamayo, the 6-foot-7 versatile forward, registered 13.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in 17 games for the second-seeded Fighting Maroons.

He was the first Maroon to win the top freshman award since Juan Gomez de Liaño won it in 2017.

Messrs. Tamayo and Lucero formed the triple-tower combo with Maodo Diouf for UP, which had its best elimination record at 12-2 en route to the finals against three-time reigning champion Ateneo.

The 6-foot-6 Mr. Lucero averaged 13.1 markers, 8.1 boards, 1.7 assists, 14 steals and 1.0 block in 17 games for UP.

Mr. Baltazar, for his part, put up 12.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block in 15 matches with Mr. Phillips cashing in 8.7 points, league-high 12.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks to lead La Salle’s Final Four finish.

Mr. Diouf, Far Eastern University’s Emman Ojuola, Ateneo’s Dave Ildefonso and Adamson’s Jerom Lastimosa were also contenders inside the Top 10 but missed the Mythical Team cut. — John Bryan Ulanday