UAAP Basketball

Amid ‘flattering’ MVP chants, UAAP top scorer Zavier Lucero shuns solo spotlight

JR Isaga
Amid ‘flattering’ MVP chants, UAAP top scorer Zavier Lucero shuns solo spotlight

STATS DON'T LIE. Zavier Lucero rises atop the UAAP Season 84 stat leaderboards as he maintains focus on team goals

UAAP Season 84 Media Team

Amid efforts of UP rising star Zavier Lucero shunning talk of individual awards, take a look at where he stands among other UAAP stars, both old and new, topping the stat leaderboards after the first round

MANILA, Philippines – Far removed from his subpar UAAP debut, UP rising star recruit Zavier Lucero has experienced a stratospheric rise in confidence, popularity, and most importantly, production with the Fighting Maroons.

Unsurprisingly, UP has won every single time the 22-year-old has had a good outing, and is now on a 17-year-best six-game winning streak to end the Season 84 first round.

Lucero fittingly peaked in the Maroons’ final assignment against the ever-dangerous FEU Tamaraws last Saturday, April 9, with a new career-high 27-point eruption that garnered him MVP chants from UP’s raucous fans.

However, Lucero is not letting the fast-rising fame get to his head, and is hellbent on keeping a team-oriented outlook as the season progresses.

“[The chants] are flattering but like I said, we have one goal in this team. Everybody has the same goal, [and] that’s what’s special about us,” he said after leading the Maroons to a nail-biting 83-76 win over the tenacious Tamaraws.

“There are no individual accolades that are going to make a difference if we aren’t able to do what we set out to do. So as long as we stay focused on that goal, then I like where we’re at.”

Though the level-headed Lucero insists on evading the spotlight shining on him, his numbers after the first round simply make that task near-impossible.

Despite a two-point debut in a loss against mighty Ateneo, the 6-foot-7 forward still shot out to lead the UAAP in scoring with 15.3 points per game, ahead of FEU super rookie RJ Abarrientos (14.9), and Adamson veteran Jerom Lastimosa (14.4).

Perhaps even more impressively, Lucero finished as the first round top scorer while also being second in field goal percentage (62.3%), just slightly behind NU’s Michael Malonzo (62.5%).

He is also first in two-point percentage (71.7%), ahead of other slashers like Ateneo’s SJ Belangel (65.5%), and traditional post threats like Gilas Pilipinas center Ange Kouame (61.3%) and Adamson reinforcement Lenda Douanga (60.4%).

Lucero hopes that going into the second round, the Maroons continue to polish their craft, and eventually, give them a shot at a long-sought championship. In his eyes, everything else that comes with that goal is just a bonus.

“I’m getting open looks a little more than some other guys, which is allowing me to be on the scoreboard. But as far as me personally, I don’t do much on my own, you know. I get set up by my guys a lot,” he said.

“It’s just our team is really growing, and our chemistry is growing, and you can see that on the offensive end.”

Other UAAP stat leaders

Apart from Lucero, other UAAP stalwarts also took their places atop the stat leaderboards like Kouame, who leads the league in rebounds (12.3) ahead of hulking FEU center Emman Ojuola (12.0), and Falcons anchor Douanga (10.3).

La Salle’s top hustle guy Michael Phillips is fourth in rebounds (9.9), and is second on offensive boards (4.9), just behind Ojuola (5.4). King Archer Justine Baltazar comes in fifth on the rebounding list (9.0), while Lucero again makes an appearance at sixth (8.3).

Meanwhile, Lucero’s running mate Maymay Cagulangan top the UAAP assist chart with 4.4 dimes per game as UE’s do-it-all prospect Clint Escamis trails right behind him at second (4.3), while also leading the league in steals (2.1).

Archers guard Schonny Winston is locked in a first-place tie with Escamis at the steals list (2.1), while Lucero once again makes an appearance at the third spot (2.0).

Over at the other side of the defensive tallies, Kouame rocketed away as the undisputed top shot blocker (2.6) after his monstrous 8-swat masterclass against NU. Slender UP center Malick Diouf is a distant second (1.9), while Douanga and Phillips tie up at third (1.4).

In other leaderboards, five Blue Eagles have perched in the top six spots of the three-point percentage list, led by Ateneo captain Gian Mamuyac (44%) and FEU sniper Xyrus Torres at second (43%).

A whopping seven Ateneo players are also scattered in the top 10 plus-minus list, largely thanks to their lopsided wins against Adamson, UE, and rival La Salle. Three UP players round out the list.

Unsurprisingly, the two highest scoring teams are the two Katipunan neighbors Ateneo (82.7) and UP (79.6), while FEU (72.7) and dark horse NU (70.3) are distant runners-up. –

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