Pride of España | S82 individual awardees Soulemane Chabi Yo and Mark Nonoy

Two main cogs of the UST Growling Tigers have bagged the top individual awards of the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament.

Soulemane Chabi Yo, who hails from Benin, West Africa, ran away with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award after topping the statistical race after the double-round robin eliminations.

Amassing 76 statistical points (SPs), Chabi Yo edged out Season 81 Rookie of the Year (ROY) Angelo Kouame of Ateneo for the prestigious individual award. Recruited out of the Colegio de San Lorenzo, Chabi Yo averaged 16.9 points, 14.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in his maiden campaign in the UAAP Seniors division.

Mark Nonoy, on the other hand, bagged the ROY citation over fellow Thomasian Sherwin Concepcion. The Negros Occidental native garnered 39.29 SPs, built around averages of 10.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest.

Together with the emergence of newcomer Rhenz Abando, playmaker Renzo Subido and former De La Salle Green Archer Brent Paraiso, the Tigers barged into the playoffs – after a three-year absence – with an 8-6 win-loss slate. In the stepladder semifinals yesterday, the España-based dribblers took down the FEU Tamaraws, 81-71, to advance to the next phase against the second-ranked UP Fighting Maroons.

How did Chabi Yo and Nonoy make it to the top of individual awards’ race? FOX Sports Philippines looks back at the Season 82 campaign of both UST standouts:

Chabi Yo: Walking tall

Matching up against Kouame, Lenda Dounga, Issa Gaye, Patrick Tchuente, Alex Diakhite and reigning Seniors MVP Bright Akhuetie early in the season, one thing was obvious about Chabi Yo: he is undersized against other foreign centers. Standing at just 6-foot-6, Chabi Yo gave up an average of three-and-a-half inches in height to the opposition. The Beninese slotman seems like a small forward when pitted against a seven-footer like Kouame, or against Tchuente and Dounga who both measure at 6-foot-10.

But what Chabi Yo lacked in height, he compensated with hustle and timing. As his teammates fire from the outside, Chabi Yo patrols the shaded lane, looking to clean up those missed threes to recycle a UST possession. Most of Chabi Yo’s shots are of a high percentage – mostly off putbacks and post-ups. Chabi Yo also showcased his ability to knock down midrange jumpers, especially in instances where UST’s offense seem to go nowhere. Coach Aldin Ayo’s prized find has a deft touch from the perimeter and from the free throw line – an area where most of his counterparts are struggling at.

And on the breakaway? Chabi Yo was oftentimes a highlight-reel play waiting to happen.

Nonoy: Youthful flash

Mark Nonoy’s pace is akin to a sports car that goes from zero to 60 kilometers per hour in a split second. The Negrense speedster is at the forefront of UST’s fast-paced offense – a system favored heavily by Ayo. Nonoy thrives on the open court, as the young playmaker has displayed his knack for racking up points on the fast break. Apart from his transition attacks, Nonoy can also light it up from beyond the arc, much like the other UST gunners.

Nonoy’s turnover count though, is a bit on the high side, averaging a team-high 2.29 errors per ballgame. Losing control of the leather at breakneck speed, Nonoy at times has fallen victim to his own undoing. That’s one aspect that Nonoy has to improve on this early in his budding basketball career.