UAAP: Championship, not MVP, is Carl Tamayo's priority

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2022 04:11 PM

UP big man Carl Tamayo. UAAP Media.
UP big man Carl Tamayo. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- Carl Tamayo is well aware that there will be more attention on him come UAAP Season 85, in what will be his second season with the University of the Philippines (UP).

Tamayo was superb as a rookie, averaging 13.14 points and 7.29 rebounds per game en route to Rookie of the Year honors. He helped the Fighting Maroons end a 36-year title drought, and went on to have a busy offseason that saw him get called up to Gilas Pilipinas.

Entering Season 85, there is more pressure than ever on Tamayo. Not only are the Fighting Maroons tipped to win a second straight UAAP crown, but Tamayo is expected to be the one to lead them back to the Promised Land.

In a press conference on Wednesday, several UAAP coaches pointed to Tamayo as the top candidate for Most Valuable Player honors ahead of the season. While flattered by the praise, Tamayo insists it's not a priority for him.

"MVP, never naman ako pumunta sa liga na iniisip ko 'yung individual award. I think basketball is a team game," the big man said. "I think I'm just gonna work hard, I'm just gonna play hard and try to help the team to win every game."

The focus, said Tamayo, is a second straight championship for the Fighting Maroons. "'Yun lang naman 'yung goal, kaya kami pumasok dito, kaya kami nag-sakripisyo. I think, mag-champion this season, 'yun naman ang goal," he said.

In this regard, Tamayo feels that the Fighting Maroons are well-prepared. Not only did they compete in several preseason leagues including the FilOil EcoOil Cup, but they also traveled to South Korea where they played a handful of professional teams. 

Tamayo himself played in a handful of games for Gilas Pilipinas, an experience that he said will be helpful for him in Season 85. The big man also believes that in his second season with UP, he is ready for more responsibility not just on the court but off it as well.

"I think 'yung leadership ko, as a player, I think 'yun talaga ang bini-build up sa akin ni Coach Gold [Monteverde]," Tamayo said of the improvement he wants to showcase in his sophomore year.

"Trying to play perimeter, 'yun naman 'yung mga bagay na winork hard ko ngayong off-season para maitulong ko sa team namin ngayong season," he added.

Tamayo is a serial winner, having been a multiple-time champion during his high school days with the Nazareth School of National University. But he knows that winning a second straight title at the collegiate level will be easier said than done.

Already, the Fighting Maroons have been tabbed as the "team to beat" by other UAAP teams in Season 85, and there's no doubt that the target is firmly on their backs.

"Siyempre, na-realize namin what it takes being a champion. The hard work we put in during the bubble. The sacrifices na binigay namin," said Tamayo. "Nakita namin ang kailangan naming gawin na trabaho na kailangan namin para makuha namin ang championship. Lahat ng sakripisyo may bunga namin."

"Nand'yan naman lagi ang pressure. We've prepared so hard. We trained hard for this season para kahit papaano mawala [ang pressure] kasi alam mong pinaghahandaan mo ang giyerang pupuntahan mo," he added.

Tamayo and the Fighting Maroons will open their UAAP Season 85 campaign on Saturday against the De La Salle University Green Archers.

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