Rhenz Abando held his MVP trophy on center court, but the NCAA Season 97 Men’s Basketball Tournament Best Baller wanted a much bigger prize than the most prestigious individual award.
“I am just happy to be free. I am not satisfied with this award, it was not even planned. I have one goal and that is to win the championship, “said Abando, who similarly won the Rookie of the Year award and placed himself in the Mythical Five selection.
Abando’s ambition for the collegiate title did not end at UAAP’s Santo Thomas University, and his transfer to defending champion Lateran Nights could make that dream a reality.
“The last time I played in the final, we were young. My main goal in moving here is to finally get a (championship) trophy, “said Abando, who averaged 48.44 points after logging 15.73 points, 6.36 rebounds, 1.73 assists and averaging 1.27 blocks.
These figures helped the defending champion Knights return to the finals and lead Abando as the Latvian season MVP since Raymond Almazan completed the feat in 2013.
6-foot-2 forward, who came from Stowe. Tomas, Pangasinan, was the fourth rookie-MVP of the league after Allwell Oraeme of Mapua in 2015, Sam Ekwe of San Beda in 2006 and Gabby Espinas of the Christian University of the Philippines in 2004.
Arelano center Justin Arana led the statistics sheets with a 58.75 PAV, but was disqualified for the MVP Plum after the chiefs did not make the final four.
Joining the legendary team Abando and Arana are Letran’s Jeo Ambohot (47.22 PAV), St. Louis Ambohot (47.22 PAV). Benilde’s Will Gozum (46.88 PAV) defeated San Sebastian (41.77 PAV) season scoring champion JM Kalma.
Arana, however, won the Best Defensive Player of the Year award for his team-mates in Emilio Aguinaldo College’s Nat Kosejo, Lyceum’s Omar Larupe, Gozum, Ambohot and Kalma’s all-defensive team.
Mapuer Paolo Hernandez, who has risen from 35th to 10th in the statistics this season, has been voted the best player of the season and the athlete award went to the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Altas.
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