University of the Philippines’ (UP) Men’s Basketball Team center Malick Diouf was named Season 85’s Most Valuable Player and, together with fellow team center Carl Tamayo, declared member of this season’s Mythical Five during the UAAP awarding ceremonies preceding Game Two of the Best of Three Finals between UP and Ateneo de Manila University on December 14, 2022.
The 6-foot-11 Senegalese averaged 10.79 points and 10.86 rebounds per game during the elimination round. Tamayo averaged 13.79 points and 7.71 rebounds per game and was named a sponsor’s Swag Player of the Season after garnering 28,000 fan votes.
“I want to say thank you for this blessing. Thank you to my teammates, but the job is not yet done. I hope that in two or three hours, we will be celebrating in our school,” said Diouf in a speech after receiving his trophies.
His hopes were dashed, however, in the next game as the UP Fighting Maroons succumbed to the ADMU Blue Eagles, 55-65. Diouf scored only two points, missing most of the match after Ateneo’s tight defense led to him committing fouls early in the game.
Misfortune hounded the Maroons until the fourth quarter when forward Zavier Lucero hurt his knee on a fall, 8:31 remaining on the clock, and had to be carried off the court. His fitness for Game 3 is uncertain as of press time.
Tamayo and guard JD Cagulangan scored consistently at 15 and 11, respectively. Tamayo kept the Maroon crowd’s hopes alive in the fourth quarter, which they entered 13 points behind Ateneo. He made the first seven points for UP, the second shot from outside the rainbow line. The momentum peaked with guard Terrence Fortea shooting another three-pointer with 4:46 remaining in the clock. However, Ateneo’s 8 points in the fourth quarter, four from game top-scorer Ange Kouame, was enough to seal the game in the Blue Eagles’ favor.
The UP loss led to a tie in the finals and a do-or-die, winner-takes-all Game 3 on December 19. The UP community continues to hold out for a repeat of the Season 84 Finals when the UP Fighting Maroons took the championship in Game 3 after a Game 1 win and Game 2 loss.
Familiar sights from the bleachers of the SMART Araneta Coliseum—UPMBT’s fans and stans in a sea of maroon:
Photos by Kevin Christian Roque, UP MPRO.