UP clinches ROTY awards; Diouf takes second straight Mythical Five honor

Three University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons etched their names in the UAAP history books after grabbing a Mythical Five seat and two Rookie of the Year (ROTY) awards in the Season 86 collegiate basketball tournaments.

Malick Diouf added another feat to his name after seizing a spot in the Mythical Five for the second straight time. 

Meanwhile, freshmen Francis Lopez and Favour Onoh were crowned this season’s ROTY in the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, respectively. 

Finishing strong

Senegalese standout Diouf garnered 74.7 statistical points (SPs) in his graduating year to secure a place in the Mythical Five after averaging 12.08 points, 13.23 rebounds, 1.62 blocks and 1.15 steals per game. 

The 6-foot-10 center was crowned Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) in Season 84 and overall MVP in Season 85.

Also in the elite selection are DLSU’s newly minted MVP Kevin Quiambao, Evan Nelle, UE’s Rey Remogat, and FEU’s LJ Gonzales.

UP MBT’s Diouf hugs teammate Lopez during the awarding ceremony on Dec. 3, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. Photo by Sandra Remotigue

Meanwhile, ROTY Lopez displayed prowess on the basketball court after tabulating 60.36 SPs.

The 6-foot-6 Filipino-Angolan ranked seventh in the overall SP leaderboard with an average of 9.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals. 

UE’s Precious Momowei was initially the top rookie with 66.77 SPs, but his two unsportsmanlike fouls led to his suspension and ineligibility for the award.

Odds in the rookie’s favor

For the women’s division, Onoh of the UP Women’s Basketball Team (UP WBT) received the ROTY award with 72.71 SPs.

The 18-year-old also ranked fourth in the statistical race, after averaging 10.07 points, 13.93 rebounds, 3.21 blocks and 1.29 steals per game. 

However, UAAP rules state that only one foreign student-athlete can be part of the Mythical Five, with the citation going to FEU’s Josee Kaputu with 82.0 SPs, who ranked second in the race.

Despite not being part of the elite selection, Onoh has led UP’s charge and has set a new league record after a 30-rebound outing in a semifinal game against the UST Growling Tigresses.

The 6-foot-4 Nigerian now sets her sights on the MVP plum next season. 

“I’m thankful for this award because this is my first year and this is my first season. I worked for it, all the extra work really paid off. Hoping to be the MVP next season,” Onoh said in an interview

Led by Onoh and fellow rookie Louna Ozar, the UP WBT lifted a 15-year podium drought after seizing bronze in the women’s basketball tournament this season. 

Meanwhile, the UP MBT will try to reclaim the championship title as they face the DLSU Green Archers in a do-or-die Game 3 on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Smart–Araneta Coliseum.