UAAP Basketball

‘Kuya’ Malick Diouf earns praise as ‘selfless’ UP leader

JR Isaga
‘Kuya’ Malick Diouf earns praise as ‘selfless’ UP leader

ON TOP. UP big man Malick Diouf, guard James Spencer, and the rest of the UP Maroons keep their title defense going.

UAAP Season 85 Media Team

Often standing out of the spotlight behind UP's flashier players, UAAP Finals MVP Malick Diouf earns praise for his supporting role and helping keep the Maroons together

MANILA, Philippines – From top to bottom, the UP Fighting Maroons are filled with flashy players who not only back up their style with their production, but also sacrifice that pizzazz when needed for the betterment of the team as a whole.

The defending UAAP champions have the likes of the supremely skilled, all-around threat Carl Tamayo, the two-way high-flyer Zavier Lucero, the lethal sniper Terrence Fortea, and the ever-composed floor general JD Cagulangan, among others.

Standing imposingly among them, just a step behind the spotlight, is big man Malick Diouf, who is tasked to lead the dirty work like scrapping for rebounds, and blocking shots and passing lanes to create more offensive opportunities for the rest.

However, on Wednesday, November 2, against the Adamson Soaring Falcons, the Senegalese anchor was thrust front and center after dropping a career-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with 8 rebounds, 5 steals, 2 assists, and a stellar plus-minus of +30 in UP’s 91-70 blowout win.

In one of the rare times Diouf’s supporting efforts were topping the highlight reels, Maroons head coach Goldwin Monteverde took the opportunity to emphasize what the rest of the team already knows from day one.

“Actually, Malick’s attitude ever since would always be team first. Apart from that, during practices, he would really stress to his team how we should really play the game. He’s always there to remind everybody to execute well on both ends,” he said.

“I feel very blessed and the team is very blessed to have him as part of our team. It’s not often that you have foreign student-athletes that you would really think about being selfless for the team.”

So far in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament, the 6-foot-11 beanpole is only fourth in team scoring with 9.9 points even after his career-high outing, but is, on the other hand, first in rebounds (9.44), second in assists (2.4), first in blocks (1.6), and second in steals (1.4).

Diouf, who was with Monteverde during the postgame interview, flashed his usual big smile and reiterated that he is just doing his job.

“I think coach said the right things. I’m here to help the team, to handle the guys, because I think right now, I’m part of the ‘kuyas’ (elder brothers) [of the team],” said the reigning Finals MVP.

“We worked for it. All my teammates, we did it together. We started strong and we finished strong. We did a good job. I’m happy for it also.”

With a top-ranked record of 8-1, UP has certainly found its stride in its title defense campaign with at least one win against every other university in the eight-team league.

Every player knows his place in the winning equation, and Kuya Malick is there to ensure there is no divide – just guys adding wins minus the egos. –

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