Ian, Alyssa, 2 others UAAP 78’s top athletes
LA SALLE table tennis standout Ian Lariba continued to reap the rewards of her stunning qualification to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics as she shared the limelight with three other athletes at the closing ceremony of UAAP Season 78 on Saturday night.
Lariba was named co-Athlete of the Year by the country’s top collegiate league along with volleyball star Alyssa Valdez, Adamson softbelle Queeny Sabobo and Ateneo swimmer Jessie Khing Lacuna at Ang Bahay ng Alumni on the University of the Philippines campus.
It marked the first time that the UAAP gave the awards to four athletes.
Lariba, who finished her five-year stint in the UAAP without a single defeat, will be the first Filipino to see action in table tennis in the Olympics after qualifying through the recent ITTF-Asia Olympic qualifier in Hong Kong.
Valdez wasn’t around to pick up her award following another impressive season that saw her collect a third UAAP MVP award.
“I didn’t expect the award but I’m thankful for the blessings,” said Valdez, whose squad lost to La Salle in a hotly contested title series. “This award is a challenge for me to strive harder for the next chapter of my career.”
Sabobo, a shortstop, stood at the forefront of the Lady Falcons’ march to a sixth straight crown in softball, while Lacuna powered the Blue Eagles to back-to-back title runs in men’s swimming.
University of the Philippines, through chancellor Dr. Michael Tan, formally turned over the UAAP flag to Season 79 president Fr. Ermito de Sagun of UST, signalling the España-based school’s turn to host the UAAP this year.
Other Athlete of the Year award nominees: Ateneo’s Hannah Dato (swimmming), Marck Espejo (men’s volleyball), Ysay Marasigan (men’s beach volleyball) and Monch Santiago (men’s judo), La Salle’s Boo Barandiaran (baseball) and Bernadette Galas (women’s chess), University of the East’s Keren Pangilinan (women’s fencing), and National University’s Afril Bernardino (women’s basketball).