La Salle's Xiandi Chua, UP's Nickole Dela Cruz named UAAP Athletes of Year | Inquirer Sports

La Salle’s Xiandi Chua, UP’s Nickole Dela Cruz named UAAP Athletes of Year

/ 05:11 PM May 27, 2023

UP softball team's Nickole Dela Cruz. –MARLO CUETO/

UP softball team’s Nickole Dela Cruz. –MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — La Salle swimmer Xiandi Chua and University of the Philippines softball star Nickole Dela Cruz were crowned the Athletes of the Year in the UAAP Season 85 on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.

Chua, the MVP of women’s swimming, earned the individual Athlete of the Year, while Dela Cruz earned the top honor in the team sports during the closing ceremony of Season 85.

Chua earned the Most Valuable Player plum last November to end La Salle’s title drought in swimming where she set four new UAAP records to win six golds, one silver, and one bronze medal.


Chua also set a new SEA Games record in the women’s 200-meter backstroke with a time of 2:13.20 for the Philippines’ first gold in swimming in Cambodia.

La Salle swimmer Xiandi Chua. –CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

La Salle swimmer Xiandi Chua. –CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Dela Cruz won the women’s softball MVP and also earned the Best Hitter, Best Slugger, and got the Most Runs Batted-Ins at 10.

The infielder was supposed to play for the Blu Girls, who qualified for World Cup, but she was ruled out after a knee injury in Finals Game 1.

“I didn’t expect it because it’s my first UAAP and we waited for a long time. My goal wasn’t about winning awards. My mindset was to help my team and be one of the leaders, who can bring wins,” Dela Cruz said in Filipino. “I’m doing well in recovering. I can walk better now and the swelling has subsided. Looking forward to my full recovery.”


“Next season, expect us to remain thirsty to win for UP. I hope it will be our time,” she added.

Meanwhile, Adamson boys athletics star Kent Francis Jardin won the Athlete of the Year for individual sports in the high school division, while Far Eastern University Baby Tamaraw John Rey Pasaol won the top honor for team sports.


Jardin was named as boys’ athletics MVP and won seven golds in all events to lead Adamson High School to its first boys’ athletics crown in 24 years.

Pasaol was a mythical member of boys’ basketball and led the Baby Tamaraws to a championship. He was also the MVP of the 3×3 boys basketball —  a demonstration sport.

The league also honored the 73 student-athletes who represented the country in the SEA Games.

Gold medalists Adamson’s Jerom Lastimosa (men’s basketball), La Salle’s Chua (women’s swimming), Michael Philllips (men’s basketball), and Patrick King Cruz (men’s individual poomsae), NU’s Kurt Barbosa (men’s kyorugi), UE’s Mecca Cortizano (women’s team obstacle race), UP’s Erika Burgos (mixed relay aquathlon), and UST’s Nicole Labayne and Aidaine Laxa (team female poomsae) were among the UAAP’s representatives in Team Philippines.

Each of the eight member schools also recognized their top athlete-scholars.

Celebrated were Adamson’s Trisha Tubu (women’s volleyball), Ateneo’s Marjorie Manguiat (women’s swimming), La Salle’s Chua (women’s swimming), FEU’s Gio Pabualan (men’s football), NU’s Jessica Carcueva (women’s lawn tennis), UE’s Jewel Rafael (women’s judo), UP’s John Viron Ferrer (men’s judo), and UST’s Djulia Brion (women’s swimming).

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For the high school division, Adamson’s Johnray Abayon (boys’ basketball), Ateneo’s Ivo Enot (boys’ swimming), DLSZ’s Juliana Yamson (girls’ table tennis), FEU-D’s Mhage Sebastian (girls’ chess), NUNS’ Alphecca Gonzales (girls’ chess), and UE’s Alexza Gatdula (girls’ judo) were the athlete-scholars.

TAGS: UAAP Season 85

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