MANILA, Philippines – As defending champion University of the Philippines picked up steam in the UAAP Season 85, Malick Diouf stood the tallest with monstrous numbers for the Diliman squad.
Stringing together back-to-back games laced by consecutive career-highs in scoring, the 6-foot-11 slotman helped the Fighting Maroons clinch a spot in the Final Four with a 9-1 card on top of the standings, including a 3-0 campaign this week.
Against UE on Saturday, Diouf copped MVP of the match for the second game in a row with 23 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks to lead UP’s 83-69 drubbing of the Red Warriors.
Diouf, who also came through with a previous career-best 20 markers in UP’s 91-70 win over Adamson, shot an efficient 10-of-13 from the field, going perfect in the first half (7-of-7) as the Maroons started scorching hot at 12-0 versus UE en route to their sixth straight win.
Diouf’s efficiency and reliability down low for the Maroons earned him the Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week presented by San Miguel Corporation and the Philippine Sports Commission for the period of October 30 to November 5.
In UP’s three-game run, Diouf averaged 16 points, 10.3 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1.6 blocks – further proving his stature as one of the best bigs in the collegiate ranks today.
With Diouf leading the way, UP heads into a 12-day FIBA break enjoying a lone view at the UAAP summit and the perk of becoming the first team into the Final Four with still a couple of matches left – marking its fourth straight postseason appearance.
Despite his string of strong games, there will be no rest for the weary as the UAAP Season 84 Finals MVP continues to seek improvement in a bid to help Diliman retain the crown.
“Break? I don’t think we’re going to have a break. We’re going to practice every day. But, for now, we just have to focus for the next games. Like, be ready.” said Diouf.
Diouf bested Zavier Lucero, NU’s Jolo Manansala, FEU’s Bryan Sajonia, Adamson’s Cedrick Manzano, and Ateneo’s Ange Kouame for the weekly honor deliberated upon by print and online media covering the league, with MNL Kingpin, Tinapayan Festival, and Jockey as minor sponsors. – Rappler.com