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Diouf stands tall for Maroons

As defending champion University of the Philippines picked up steam in the Season 85 University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament, Malick Diouf stood the tallest with monstrous numbers.

Stringing together back-to-back games laced by consecutive career-highs in scoring, the 6-foot-11 slotman helped the Fighting Maroons clinch a spot in the Final Four with a 9-1 card on top of the standings, including a 3-0 campaign this week.

Against University of the East on Saturday, Diouf copped the Most Valuable Player award of the match for the second game in a row with 23 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks to lead UP to an 83-69 victory.

Diouf, who also came through with a previous career-best 20 points in UP’s 91-70 win over Adamson University, also shot an efficient 10-of-13 from the field while going perfect in the first half for the Maroons, who started hot against UE for their sixth straight win.

Diouf’s efficiency and reliability down low earned him the Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week presented by San Miguel Corporation and the Philippine Sports Commission for the period of 30 October to 5 November.

In UP’s three-game run, Diouf averaged 16 points, 10.3 boards, three assists, one steal, and 1.6 blocks — further proving his stature as one of the best big men in the collegiate ranks today.

With Diouf leading the way, UP heads into a 12-day FIBA break as the first team into the Final Four with still a couple of matches left.

Despite his string of strong games, there will be no rest for the weary as the UAAP Season 84 Finals MVP continues to seek improvement in a bid to help UP retain the crown.

“Break? I don’t think we’re going to have a break. We’re going to practice every day. But, for now, we just have to focus on the next games. Like, be ready,” Diouf said.

The Senegalese slotman bested teammate Zavier Lucero, Jolo Manansala of National University, Bryan Sajonia of Far Eastern University, Cedrick Manzano of Adamson, and Ange Kouame of Ateneo de Manila University for the weekly honor deliberated upon by print and online media covering the league, with MNL Kingpin, Tinapayan Festival, and Jockey as minor sponsors.

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