Range Abando was so engrossed in winning the NCAA Season 97 Men’s Basketball title for the Lateran Nights that the award for one of the most valuable players was considered a mere figment of his imagination.
After the 6-foot-2 spring-loaded forward emerges as the best player of the season, the Mapua will be further inspired to seal the Latrons’ second straight championship seal in Game 2 of their title showdown with the Cardinals.
In addition to the MVP trophy, the best rookie of the year will also be selected at the awards ceremony before the Knights-Cardinals Championship clash on Sunday at the Abando Philoil Flying V Center.
“My priority is to win the championship because I don’t want to be bridesmaid anymore,” said Abando, who moved to Latron a year after playing for the University Santo Thomas team that lost in the 2019 UAAP final.
“Winning the MVP is just a bonus, but I’m still grateful for the blessings,” added Abando after averaging 15.73 points, 6.36 rebounds, 1.73 assists and 1.27 blocks despite coming off the bench most of the time.
Abando, who came from Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan, discontinued the Rookie-MVP credit in 2015 after performing Mapua’s Allwell Oraeme strategy. San Bedar Sam Aquay achieved this feat in 2006 and Gabby Espinas of the Christian University of the Philippines won it in 2004.
Abando, 24, will lead the Mythical Five, which includes his teammates Geo Ambohot, Arelano Bigman, Justin Arana, San Sebastian power forward JM Kalma and St. Benil’s Will Gozum.
Ambohot, the third overall pick in the recent PBA Draft, averaged 10.45 points, 10.45 rebounds and 1.55 blocks, and Arna, who was fourth overall in Pro League rookie practice, has 17.11 rebounds, 14.78 points, 47 blocks and 47 assists.
Kalma, the highest scorer of the season, averaged 16.89 points, 10.33 rebounds. 1.22 assists and one block per game while Gozum had 13.27 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.82 blocks in 11 games.
Unbeaten in 11 games, the Knights are looking to sweep their best three series with the Cardinals in a narrow margin of 68-63 in the opening match of last Sunday’s final.
Joining Abendo in Mythical Five are his latrine teammate Geo Ambohot, Arelano center Justin Arana, San Sebastian JM Kalma and St. Louis midfielder JM Kalma. Will Gozum of Benilde.
Ambot averaged 10.45 points for the Knights, 10.45 rebounds and 1.55 blocks, while Arana topped the league board with his 14.78 points, 2.78 blocks and his 17.11 rebound with 1.44 assists for the Chiefs.
Kalma led the league with his 16.89 points, 10.33 boards, 1.22 assists and 1.0 blocks for the Golden Stags, as Gojum rejected 13.27 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.82 blazers.
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