MANILA, Philippines – Hours before the UAAP semifinal match between the UST Growling Tigers and the FEU Tamaraws, news broke that Soulemane Chabi Yo was set to be the league MVP.
The Beninese forward amassed 76 statistical points built on stellar averages of 16.9 points and a league-high 14.6 rebounds to take the league’s highest individual award.
Of course, UST fans were among the first to know this and showered their star big man with MVP chants from tip-off to the final buzzer of the Season 82 men’s basketball stepladder semifinals on Wednesday, November 6,
Chabi Yo repaid the favor in kind and matched his career-high with 25 points to go with 11 rebounds and 3 assists in the thrilling 81-71 win.
With the win, the Tigers lived to see another day and now move on to another do-or-die match against the twice-to-beat UP Fighting Maroons on Sunday, November 10.
After the game, the soft-spoken star could only give thanks to the people who willed him on.
“It was very surprising and emotional,” he said. “At the same time, very happy because you have people supporting you. It gives you more motivation.”
Although he only had 6 points in the second half, Chabi Yo did most of his damage in a 19-point eruption at the first two quarters on a perfect 7-of-7 clip to help build a massive 54-28 lead.
Despite FEU rallying to bring the game as close as 5 points early in the 4th, Chabi Yo and UST held on to close out the feisty Tamaraws in the endgame.
“We just tried to be motivated and we wanted it more in the first half,” he continued. “They were not making their shots so we took our advantage. In the second half, they made theirs so we had to keep our focus on the defensive end and also in the offensive.”
UST now expects more of the same from their newly minted MVP come Sunday afternoon as they face the UP Maroons and former MVP Bright Akhuetie next. – Rappler.com