MANILA, Philippines – Out of the many surprises so far in the UAAP Season 78 seniors’ basketball tournament, the emergence of UST Growling Tigers guard Ed Daquioag as the early leading candidate for the MVP award is the most unexpected.
After averaging just 7.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 22 minutes a game last UAAP season, the 6-foot, 24-year-old talent has increased his numbers to 24.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 36 minutes a game in 2015.
In addition, his Growling Tigers are off to a 3-0 start this season after picking up wins against Adamson, FEU, and UP, making his case as the winner if the MVP award was handed right now even stronger.
But that thought, or the award for the matter, is still not in Daquioag’s mind.
“Hindi ko pa iniisip yan, kasi every game muna ako,” he said after his team’s victory against the Fighting Maroons. “Tuloy tuloy ko lang yung ganitong game sa every game, siguro mag fo-follow yun.”
(I’m still not thinking about that because I’m taking things at a game-by-game approach. I’ll just continue playing like this and hopefully it follows.)
Just like his head coach Bong Dela Cruz said, “Maaga pa para mag decide (it’s still too early to decide),” Daquioag stated.
Dela Cruz, who’s in his second year coaching the Growling Tigers, says that one major reason why Daquioag has blossomed this season is because of his improved health.
“This season, healthy siya. I hope na maging healthy throughout the season, para maganda yung performance niya and matulungan niya yung team namin,” the head coach said.
(I hope he remains healthy throughout the tournament, so that his performance is good and he gets to help the team.)
“Si Ed, yung confidence niya is very high. He’s just enjoying the game.”
Daquioag, who’s also shooting a very impressive 53% from the field this season, wasn’t at full strength last year as he battled through a right ankle injury.
But with his health and order in the team now properly in order, he says his confidence is at its highest.
“Mataas na siya, kasi alam ko na isa na ako sa mga leader nang team namin. Kailangan set a good example sa mga teammates ko,” said the UST marketing major from Ilocos Norte, who was receiving chants of MVP from the UST crowd against UP.
(My confidence is high because I’m one of the leaders of the team. I need to set a good example for my teammates.)
“Syempre, unexpected. Syempre, overwhelmed kasi yun yung sinisgaw nung UST community,” he commented about it.
(Of course, it’s unexpected. Of course, I’m overwhelmed because that’s what the UST community is saying.)
The Growling Tigers will aim to improve their record to 4-0 on Saturday, September 19, when they face the still winless defending champion National University Bulldogs.
(READ: Altamirano wants NU Bulldogs to ‘stay positive’ despite 0-3 start)
With NU in dire need of victories, the upcoming challenge will be tough for UST.
“Syempre, babawi sila. Mag pre-prepare sila. They will prepare hard. Kami rin, ganon rin… defending champion parin yan. May pride to win,” said Dela Cruz.
(Of course, they’ll fight back. They’ll prepare. Us, we’ll do the same… those are still the defending champions. There’s pride to win.)
“Magandang start saamin, so, basta every game lang, we’ll prepare every game, so next game namin mag pre-prepare ulit kami.”
(We’ve had a good start, so every game, we’ll just prepare, and for our next game, we’ll prepare again.) – Rappler.com
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