MANILA, Philippines - University of Sto. Tomas (UST) head coach Pido Jarencio is convinced that his star center, Karim Abdul, is the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the UAAP Season 75 men's basketball tournament.
Abdul, a double-double machine who led the Growling Tigers to a 10-4 record at the end of the elimination round, was one of the top MVP candidates after the first round of eliminations.
"MVP talaga 'yun, no question," Jarencio told reporters after Abdul scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Tigers past University of the East, 87-75.
"Double-double every game, intimidating presence sa loob. Ganoon lang kasimple 'yun. Ano pa hahanapin mo?" Jarencio said.
"May blocks, may steal. At pag nakikita si Karim, natatakot ang kalaban."
Abdul finished the elimination round with averages of 16.9 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He led the UAAP in rebounding and was fourth in scoring.
He topped the UAAP in statistical points at the end of the first round, but his MVP campaign suffered a blow when he was assessed an unsportsmanlike foul towards the end of the game against the Red Warriors.
Players are deducted a certain number of points for unsportsmanlike fouls.
"For me, 'yung tinawag na unsportsmanlike, uncalled for 'yun, mali 'yun. Unang-una, tinulak siya, he was provoked," said Jarencio, who could be seen berating Abdul after the foul.
"Kawawa naman 'yung bata. Pero sa MVP, no doubt. Si Karim Abdul," he added.
Last season, Abdul could have made it to the Mythical Five but was disqualified after getting suspended for one game.
His primary competition for the MVP plum this year is last season's winner, Bobby Ray Parks Jr. of the National University Bulldogs.
Parks has also had a remarkable season, leading the UAAP in scoring with 20.9 points per game while also norming 7.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.