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Collegiate hoops, volleyball stars feted

Top student-athletes in the past three seasons of the NCAA and UAAP were recognized in the return from a three-year hiatus of the Collegiate Press Corps Awards Night, presented by San Miguel Corporation and Philippine Sports Commission at the Hummingbird Rooftop Bar in Quezon City on Monday.

The cream of the crop in the basketball and volleyball scene from the 2019-20, 2021-22, and 2022-23 athletic years were feted in the historic three-in-one ceremony also backed by MNL Kingpin, Tinapayan Festival, Jockey, and World Balance.

Letran’s Rhenz Abando and the Ateneo pair of Thirdy Ravena and Ange Koaume were hailed as the Collegiate Basketball Players of the Year after steering their respective schools to the most coveted hoop title.

Ravena copped the 2019-20 edition of the plum presented by San Miguel Corp., for steering Ateneo to its third straight UAAP title in a rare 16-0 sweep in Season 82.

“It means a lot to me kasi this time, four years ago, was really the time that shaped me both on and off the court and made me a better person,” said Ravena through a video message as his father Bong received the award on his behalf.

The King Eagle was also named in the 2019-20 All-Collegiate Team together with UST’s Soulemane Chabi Yo, San Beda’s Calvin Oftana, and the Letran pair of Fran Yu and Jerrick Balanza.

NCAA Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Abando added another feat to his resume with the 2021 edition of the award for rallying the Knights to the Season 97 crown.

“Sobrang laking tulong sakin na maglaro [sa] collegiate kasi kung hindi ako naglaro dito, hindi naman ako makikilala at [makakapunta] sa abroad,” said Abando, who has gone on to win the Korean Basketball League title as part of Anyang KGC.

Joining Abando in the 2021-22 Collegiate Mythical Five are Knights teammate Jeo Ambohot, Ateneo’s Kouame, and UP duo Carl Tamayo and Malick Diouf.

UAAP Season 85 Finals MVP Kouame was named the 2022-23 Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year for helping Ateneo reclaim the title from rival UP, tallying his third collegiate crown in four seasons in the process.

The naturalized cager also headlined the Mythical Five for back-to-back years alongside UP’s Diouf, Benilde’s Will Gozum, Letran’s Louie Sangalang, and Adamson’s Jerom Lastimosa.

For cementing their squads as the standard in their respective leagues, champion mentors Tab Baldwin of Ateneo (2019-20 and 2022-23) and Goldwin Monteverde of UP (2021-22) were named the UAAP Coaches of the Year presented by Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Appliances, and Handyman.

In the NCAA, Bonnie Tan of Letran was feted the same recognition for three consecutive years (2020, 2022, 2023) for orchestrating the Knights’ three-peat titles in Seasons 95, 97, and 98.

“If you have the chance to prove yourself… go for it. Right timing, right materials, right resources, malaking chance na mananalo tayo,” said Tan who parted ways with Letran a month ago after three seasons to focus on NorthPort in the PBA.

In the volleyball scene, the only ROY-MVPs of the UAAP women’s division – Bella Belen of National University and Angel Canino of De La Salle University – were hailed as the Collegiate Volleyball Player of the Year in 2022 and 2023, respectively, powered by the PSC.

Belen helped the Lady Bulldogs complete a 16-0 sweep of UAAP Season 84 en route to NU’s first championship in 65 years. Just a year after, Canino anchored the Lady Spikers in its dethroning of the Lady Bulldogs to capture DLSU’s 12th championship in Season 85.

“Sobrang honored and thankful kasi it’s a blessing. Natutuwa ako kasi I’m one of it,” said Canino.

“Sobrang thankful din kasi hindi namin ineexpect kasi maraming players ang UAAP. So it’s a blessing kasi napasama kami dito,” added Belen.

In the NCAA, College of Saint Benilde’s Mycah Go and Gayle Pascual received the annual honor for years 2022 and 2023, respectively, after continuing the Lady Blazers’ dynasty with back-to-back championship sweeps in Seasons 97 and 98.

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