With Josh Ybañez at the forefront, UST Golden Spikers show bright future | Inquirer Sports

With Josh Ybañez at the forefront, UST Golden Spikers show bright future

/ 06:20 PM May 18, 2023

UAAP Season 85 men's volleyball rookie MVP Josh Ybañez. –UAAP PHOTO

UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball rookie MVP Josh Ybañez. –UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — University of Santo Tomas coach Odjie Mamon said Josh Ybañez’s embodying the character of a Tiger led to his historic rookie year in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament.

UST got swept by the unbeaten champion National University in the Finals but Ybañez made history in his first UAAP stint, becoming the league’s second rookie MVP after former Ateneo star Marck Espejo in UAAP Season 76 last 2014.

Mamon lauded the patience and resilience of the General Santos native, whom he discovered in a one-day league. 

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“He embodies the courage, ferociousness of a tiger. Mas matapang pa siya sa mga barako,” said Mamon after his wards lost to the Bulldogs in Game 2 of the UAAP Finals.

The longtime UST coach admitted that they almost lost the 5-foot-7 spiker when he was coming off the bench in their first few games in the V-League Collegiate Challenge.

BIDING HIS TIME

Josh Ybanez UST Golden Spikers UAAP

UST’s Josh Ybanez. UAAP PHOTO

But Mamon is happy that Ybañez remained patient and waited for his time, leading to his explosive first season where he bagged the Season MVP, Rookie of the Year, and 1st Best Outside Spiker with a whopping 96.00 statistical points.

“I’m happy that he stayed with us, because he almost got away. From being a second-stringer to a start, it was a blessing for us. We knew he had it in him, but there wasn’t an opportunity to start at first,” Mamon said in Filipino. “But when he got the chance to be in the starting six, he really pounced on the chance. He improved as the season went along. I’m so proud.”

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The 20-year-old rookie, though, said would have been happier if he had been able to bring back the crown to UST.

“I’m happy but I’ll be happier if we won the championship because that’s our ultimate goal. These awards are a bonus but I will accept it and I thank the Lord,” said Ybañez in Filipino.

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BRIGHT FUTURE

UST Tiger Spikers are back in the UAAP men's volleyball Finals. –UAAP PHOTO

UST Tiger Spikers are back in the UAAP men’s volleyball Finals. –UAAP PHOTO

Ybañez credited his teammates for making life easier for him in his first UAAP, which also marked the Golden Spikers’ return after a three-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It wasn’t hard because I really trust my teammates and coaches. I know that even if I will have an off-game, someone will step up. This season coach told us to manage our expectations but we gave our all and played all out every game until we got this result,” he said.

After settling for silver in their first UAAP Finals in 11 years, Mamon admitted his young team still needs more experience but their runner-up finish, highlighted by Ybañez historic debut, is a sign that their future is bright.

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“We’re still raw, but I can promise that our future brighter future next year,” the UST coach said. “For this season, we already did overachieve when we reached the Finals because I promised the university that we’ll be in the Final Four coming from ranking fifth before the pandemic.”

TAGS: Odjie Mamon, UAAP Season 85, UST Golden Spikers

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