UAAP 82: UST’s Chabi Yo lives up to MVP billing in do-or-die game

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 06 2019 11:19 PM

UAAP 82: UST’s Chabi Yo lives up to MVP billing in do-or-die game 1
Soulemane Chabi Yo was showered with "MVP" chants Wednesday, an accolade he appreciated but played down. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines—Fans of University of Santo Tomas (UST) who braved the rain and traffic on Wednesday made their feelings clear when Soulemane Chabi Yo trooped to the free throw line in the second quarter of their knockout game against Far Eastern University.

They showered the Beninese big man with chants of "M-V-P" as he prepared to take free throws, celebrating the individual achievement of the foreign student-athlete who helped the Growling Tigers reach the UAAP Season 82 Final 4. 

Chabi Yo split his charities on that trip, but he more than made up for it with his performance the rest of the game. He finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds in powering UST to an 81-71 win, a result that sent them to the next phase of the stepladder semifinals.

"I was very surprised and very emotional," Chabi Yo said after the game, when asked about the MVP chants. "And then, at the same time, very happy because when you have people who are supporting you, it gives you more confidence."

Chabi Yo knew ahead of the game that he had earned the top individual honor in Season 82, the first time since Dylan Ababou in 2009 that a Tiger won the MVP award. His reaction, however, was muted.

"For me, its OK, that's good," Chabi Yo said of winning MVP.

"But the more important is the championship," he stressed. "So, we have to give 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."

UST head coach Aldin Ayo was not surprised to see Chabi Yo shrug off his individual award and instead come up with big numbers once more for the Tigers.

"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," said Ayo. 

After living up to his billing as the MVP of Season 82, Chabi Yo now prepares to match up with the MVP of Season 81. This, as UST will take on University of the Philippines in the next phase of the stepladder semis, a team anchored by Nigerian center Bright Akhuetie.

Chabi Yo just smiled when asked about his upcoming showdown with last year's MVP.

"You just have to do what you know to do," he said. "Follow the system of the coach. Everybody will play with his talent as their advantage."

UST plays UP on Sunday, with the Fighting Maroons needing just one win to advance to the finals for the second season in a row. Already waiting in the best-of-3 championship series are the unbeaten Ateneo Blue Eagles. 

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