MVP race far from Chabi Yo’s mind as UST faces grueling road to title round
MANILA, Philippines—Soulemane Chabi Yo has been a revelation in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament, positioning himself as the best player, numbers wise, for University of Santo Tomas.
The athletic 6-foot-4 is one of the potential MVPs of the season after finishing the elimination round with averages of 16.9 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.
He aslo led the Growling Tigers to an 8-6 record and their first Final Four in four years, but the small forward-turned-center wants nothing more than to help UST get its first title in more than a decade.
“Right now we’re in the Final Four and this isn’t the time to give up. We have to double our effort and now’s not the time for mistakes,” said Chabi Yo Thursday at UST’s Quadricentennial Pavilion. “I’m not looking for the MVP trophy, for me, I just want to be a champion and contribute to my team.”
“We’re in a do-or-die game so we have to do our best and avoid mistakes. We have to be perfect if we really want to win and also have that mental toughness.”
The Growling Tigers, who are seeded fourth in the Final Four, will first face Far Eastern University, also with an 8-6 record but are seeded higher due to a better quotient, in the stepladder match.
UST has to win five games for it to claim the title that it last held in 2006 and it’s Chabi Yo’s ultimate goal in his first season within the UAAP after transferring from University of San Lorenzo.
Chabi Yo said he’s aware MVP Chances after amassing 82.71 statistical points, but he admitted that having all that attention on him made him a better basketball player come the second round.
“I know that I’m the front runner for the MVP but ever since the start of the season my mindset was to give it all my best on defense and offense,” said Chabi Yo, who had to play center due to UST’s lack of size.
“In the second round I tried to play a little bit smarter because I was on the other teams’ scouting reports.”
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