MANILA -- Lyceum's Shawn Umali has emerged as the first Player of the Week for the NCAA's 99th season after helping the Pirates roll to a strong start in the men's basketball tournament.
The Pirates defeated heavy contenders in their first three assignments: defending champion Letran, last season's runner-up St. Benilde, and a talented Perpetual Help side.
In all three games, Umali has been a revelation for the Pirates. The 6-foot-3 bruiser has put together averages of 12 points, 5.67 rebounds, and two assists as the Pirates sailed to top of the standings with an immaculate 3-0 win-loss record.
Umali, a former Letran high school standout, had his best game this week against the four-peat-seeking Knights, churning out 15 points, three rebounds and one assist as Lyceum escaped with a 70-69 victory.
These feats earned Umali this year's first Collegiate Press Corps NCAA Player of the Week citation for Season 99.
Umali prevailed over EAC's JP Maguliano, Agem Miranda of JRU, San Beda's Jacob Cortez, and Clint Escamis of Mapua for the weekly award presented by the San Miguel Corporation and backed by minor sponsor Discovery Suites.
For Umali, it's just about getting ready whenever his number is called up in the big moments by head coach Gilbert Malabanan.
"Para sa akin, ginagawa ko lang 'yung best ko sa team para makatulong sa team talaga. 'Yung score, hindi ko naman tinitignan 'yun," said Umali.
"Iniisip ko kung paano manalo 'yung buong team."
While Umali continues to prove his worth for Lyceum, Malabanan said he expects new heroes will shine every game as the Pirates aim to surpass last season's Final Four finish.
"I have been saying this since last season: my team is unpredictable. You won't know who will explode for us," Malabanan said.