Posted Feb 16th 2014
UAAP Midseason Awards
By Paolo Mariano Posted Aug 6th 2013
When the coaches said prior to the season that the 76th UAAP will be a level playing field, they weren’t kidding. Yes, FEU and UP are on the opposite side of the poles with exactly contrasting records, but the six other squads are neck-and-neck in the middle, with three teams tied for second place and three others in a gridlock at the third spot. Now, while they’re all trying to figure out what to do in the second round and move along in the standings, let’s hand out awards to several players, who stood out in the opening half of the season.
Most Valuable Player: Terrence Romeo (FEU)
It’s a crime not to hand out the midseason MVP plum to Romeo, who has been nothing short of spectacular in the opening round. He leads the race in statistical points (SPs) after amassing 79 in seven outings. He’s tops in the league in scoring and steals with 22.6 PPG and 1.4 SPG, respectively, while also registering career-highs of 6.3 RPG and 4.1 APG. But even without the benefit of statistics, he’ll still easily win the coveted trophy with the way he’s carried FEU to a squeaky clean record. It’s amazing how a conscious shift in mindset can do to a player’s overall output.
Runner-up: Ray Parks (NU)
Rookie of the Year: Kyles Lao (UP)
Clearly, Lao has been one of the bright spots for the winless UP squad. The shifty southpaw from Xavier is number one among freshmen in terms of scoring with 8.3 PPG. Surprisingly, he’s also eighth in the league in field goal shooting with a 46.8% clip, the only guard to make it to the top 10. It’s obvious that unlike most rookies, he’s not intimidated going up against established stars in the UAAP. The former RP Under-16 Team member can penetrate, shoot from midrange, and most especially, finish on the open court. He’ll be a vital piece in the Fighting Maroons’ future.
Runner-up: Axel Iñigo (Adamson)
Defensive Player of the Year: Karim Abdul (UST)
Some fans have chided Abdul for a seemingly lackluster first round. What they don’t notice is his extra effort on the defensive end. It seems he’s made it a personal goal to be a force on defense after proving himself in the past seasons as a high-scoring import. He’s third in the league in blocks (1.6 BPG) and tied for fourth in rebounds (10.3 RPG) and steals (1.1 SPG). He’s a terrifying pick-and-roll defender for opposing guards with his hard and active blitzes and he always challenges shots in the paint. With UST’s phalanx of scorers, his reinvigorated D is a huge plus.
Runner-up: Lord Casajeros (UE)
Sixth Man of the Year: RR Garcia (FEU)
It’s unfair for FEU to have a player with Garcia’s caliber to come off the bench. But that’s exactly why the Tamaraws are on top of the heap. The former MVP has graciously accepted his role as the team’s spark off the bench. Except perhaps for Ateneo, he can easily start for the rest of the teams. He, however, is mature enough to realize that winning is more important than the spotlight. Plus, it’s clearly working for him. He’s putting up 14.3 PPG on 39.4% FG shooting—a jump from his 11.9 PPG and 34.7% last season. As they say, it’s not who starts, but who finishes.
Runner-up: Aljon Mariano (UST)
Most Improved Player: Ed Daquioag (UST)
Many wondered prior to the season if someone from UST could plug the hole left by skipper Jeric Fortuna. While the playmaking is still lacking, Daquioag’s emergence has made things easier for the Growling Tigers. His length and athleticism make him an efficient two-way player. From a measly 1.0 PPG, 0.5 RPG, and 0.2 APG last season, he’s putting up 8.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 2.6 APG this year. How’s that for a leap? Running a team is no joke and he’ll only get better as the season progresses. He’s a major contributor in UST’s second place finish after the first round.
Runner-up: Arnold Van Opstal (La Salle)
C – Charles Mammie (UE)
The emotional import from Sierra Leone is arguably the most dominant big man the UAAP has seen since Jervy Cruz. He’s a double-double factory with averages of 14.5 PPG and a league-leading 17.8 RPG—10.2 coming from the offensive end! His combination of size, girth, and strength make him nearly unstoppable in the shaded lane. He has a soft touch around the basket and rarely forces shots. If not for his suspension, he could challenge Romeo for the MVP trophy.
F – Ryan Buenafe (Ateneo)
This first forward spot was the most difficult to hand out since it could’ve also gone to either Chris Newsome or Kevin Ferrer. But Buenafe gets the nod because of his all-around brilliance in the first round. After subpar performances in the past few seasons, he’s back to his lethal form, placing eighth in the MVP race with 56.6 SPs. He’s averaging 12.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and a team-high 3.7 APG. If not for his smart and inspired play, Ateneo could be in a deeper hole right now.
F – Ray Parks (NU)
The two-time reigning MVP has been magnificent, breathing down the neck of Romeo in the race for the league’s top individual merit. He is hands down the most complete player in the UAAP. He’s doing everything for NU anew, tallying 18.9 PPG (3rd in the league), 9.4 RPG (7th), 4.4 APG (2nd), and 1.3 SPG (tied for 2nd). He can singe-handedly take over a game if he becomes less passive and avoids deferring to his teammates. Watch out for his explosion in the second round.
G – Terrence Romeo (FEU)
Of course, the midseason MVP has a spot in the Mythical Five. It feels it has been reserved for him since Day 1. Some believed that Romeo was just bluffing when he said before the season that he’ll be a different player this time around. Well, he hasn’t done anything but prove it every single game. He’s mastered the skill of involving his teammates at the onset before taking over in winning time. Again, his new approach to the game has done wonders for his young career.
G – Roi Sumang (UE)
While Romeo has been the best guard in the opening round, Sumang is unquestionably the most thrilling to watch. His coast-to-coast kamikaze drives are a thing of beauty. He’s also having a career year with 19.0 PPG (2nd in the league), 4.1 APG (3rd), and 1.1 SPG (tied for 4th). But more notably, he doesn’t shy away from big moments. Passing the ball when the game is on the line isn’t an option. He’d rather lose a game with his own shot, and that is a mark of a true leader.