The Soulemane Chabi Yo era has officially began for the University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tigers.
Apart from powering UST to an 81-71 victory over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball stepladder semifinals on Wednesday, the Beninese slot man was also named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Chabi Yo emerged as this year’s top collegiate player after averaging 16.9 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists, which garnered him 76.0 statistical points.
Although thrilled by the well-deserved recognition, the 6’6 foreign student athlete made it clear that winning the title remains as his top priority.
“Yeah, they told me. For me, it’s okay that’s good but what’s more important is the championship so we have to give all our best. Today that’s what we did, I tried to give my best, offense, defense, with the help of all my teammates we made it,” he shared postgame.
While other MVP awardees struggle when they receive the award, Chabi Yo brought his A-game in the winner-take-all match as he tallied game-highs of 25 points and 11 rebounds.
“Today it was a do-or-die game. We just tried to play good defense and then execute the plays and follow the system of the coach. We wanted to play our A-game today so that we’ll win so that’s what we did. We started strong and we tried to finish strong. We had mistakes we had to overcome. Next game we’ll try to do our best more,” he added.
UST head coach Alvin Ayo, meanwhile, had nothing but praise for Chabi Yo’s hardworking and dedication throughout the entire tournament.
“He’s not going to slow down I know him personally. When he said that he wants the championship more, well, he really means it. Talking about this game, I’m a little bit worried because na-foul trouble yung mga bigs namin and he played extended minutes. That’s why I kept asking him, ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ And he kept on telling me, ‘Coach, this is a do-or-die game. I’m going to play.’ Except for that third quarter dun siya nagpahinga. Then I told him ‘You’re going to sit for a few minutes but you’re going back because we don’t have bigs anymore,” he said.
UST takes on the twice-to-beat University of the Philippines on Sunday, November 10.