MANILA, Philippines – After copping 3 major individual awards this season, Allwell Oraeme sets his sights on a heftier prize. The 6-foot-9 Nigerian reinforcement says he would like to play a pivotal role in Mapua Institute of Technology’s bid to enter the NCAA Finals next year.
Oraeme was a huge factor in transforming the Atoy Co-mentored Cardinals from cellar-dwellers to Final Four contenders as he averaged 16.33 points, 20.28 rebounds and 2.94 blocks in the regular season.
With Oraeme manning its frontline unit, Mapua entered the crossover semi-final phase for the first time since 2010 by winning 8 of its 9 assignments in the second round of eliminations.
“The mentality was getting into the Final Four, which we accomplished. Our mindset is to win the championship next year,” Oraeme stated.
In addition, the red-and-gold troop was able to occupy the No. 3-seed in the Final Four by beating Jose Rizal University in a stepladder playoff on October 16 before being booted out by Colegio de San Juan de Letran in the semis on October 20.
As a reward to his contributions to Mapua’s NCAA Season 91 campaign, Oraeme was hailed as the Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Oraeme also became the third player in NCAA history to bag both the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year, replicating the feat of PCU’s Gabby Espinas and San Beda’s Sam Ekwe, who had similarly accomplished the feat in 2004 and 2006 respectively.
“I was expecting maybe the best defensive player award but not this, he admitted. “This feels like a dream. I didn’t believe that I’m going to win. Being the rookie-MVP is a big dream. I worked hard enough to be here. I’m grateful to God.”
According to Oraeme, he is looking to improve his wares on the offensive end to boost Mapua’s firepower on the court.
“I will try to improve my game more offensively because this season it’s more defensive for me,” said Oraeme, who ranked seventh in the overall scoring output.
With the departure of 4 key players from this season’s roster, including star skipper Josan Nimes, Mapua keeps its core line-up as the Cardinals retain Oraeme, Exeqiel Biteng, CJ Isit, JP Nieles and Darrell Menina.
Mapua has not won an NCAA basketball crown since its back-to-back title run from 1990 to 1991. – Rappler.com
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