This was easily the most chaotic week we’ve had so far in the UAAP season. To borrow the term used by current UST head coach Aldin Ayo, it was Mayhem.
It started off with the UP Fighting Maroons and the Adamson Soaring Falcons engaging in a tight tiff that was decided only during the final buzzer. Bright Akhuetie initially broke the internet, then Sean Manganti answered right back by showcasing his complete development to the entire country. Following that was Adamson once again getting pushed to the brink, only for them to answer right back. The week was wrapped up with plenty of excitement, as UP finally notched their first win in three weeks, while UE surprised EVERYONE by blowing out the FEU Tamaraws.
Mayhem. It’s crazy, it’s messy, but we absolutely love it. That’s also a big reason why the rankings for this week are pretty different compared to last week’s. That’s the beauty of the UAAP. It’s what makes it fun.
Before we start, some things to consider:
1. We will follow the UAAP format of having just one foreign student-athlete (FSA) within the Mythical 5. Case in point: The last two seasons have featured Papi Sarr in the Top 5 of the MVP Race, but he was excluded in the Mythical 5 since Ben Mbala had a higher statistical point output than him. This isn’t meant to discriminate: we just want to be uniform with the way we handle these rankings. So it’s a simple idea: Only 1 FSA within the Top 5.
2. We won’t be following any formula for this MVP Race (Just like how it is with the NBA!), but take note of this frame of thought this column will aim to follow over the season:
50 percent individual stats, 25 percent actual impact on the court, 15 percent intangibles, 10 percent team record
Individual stats are given due consideration since over the past years, the MVP has been decided largely by the stats of a player. 1/4 of the computation is allotted to actual impact on the court. These are the “little things” such as how one moves within the system, his activity on the defensive end, so on so forth. Intangibles, in one word, #PUSO. Team record should be self-explanatory.
We won’t be doing any concrete computations using this frame of thought. It’s just something to keep in mind when it comes to how the rankings are done.
3. This is a MOST VALUABLE list, not a BEST PLAYER list. Those are two completely different topics altogether.
With that being said, here’s Week 2 of the MVP Race for Season 81.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): CJ Cansino (UST Growling Tigers), Justine Baltazar (DLSU Green Archers), Thirdy Ravena (Ateneo Blue Eagles)
Most Honorable of Mentions: Bright Akhuetie, UP Fighting Maroons (Last Week: Honorable Mention)
Choosing who between Bright and the other FSA in the Top 5 this week was tough. Ultimately, I settled with the other FSA, but without banging my head on the wall because I snubbed on Bright. To make it up to him, I’ll give him the title of Most Honorable of Mentions. He deserves it.
On that note, Bright’s production has been incredible. The 14.2 points don’t exactly pop out, but it’s his rebounding that takes the cake. It was one of UP’s biggest weaknesses over the past few years, and providing that is humongous value for the Fighting Maroons already.
His defense and shot blocking don’t exactly stand out, but that doesn’t takeaway Bright’s value. He’d probably be ranked 2nd if not for the FSA rule we stated above, and he deserves every bit of props for his performance so far.
5. Sean Manganti, Adamson Soaring Falcons (Last Week: N/A)
Averages: 12.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.8 APGI guess it is real. Sean Manganti has certainly evolved into a far better player compared to how he was the past two seasons, and this version is emerging into a worthy MVP candidate for the season.
Manganti’s inconsistency was maddening at first, but as he’s slowly settled down, we’re starting to see how good of a player he really is. His length and athleticism have always been strong suits of his. Even more impressive with how he’s been, however, is how he’s developed into a legitimate wing. He not only can handle the ball in spurts, but his shooting has also been a delight to watch.
Papi Sarr and Jerrick Ahanmisi were known commodities already for the Soaring Falcons. Now we have Manganti emerging as the final piece of their Big 3, and he’s someone who could very well tip the scales in the Falcons’ title aspirations.
4. Jerrick Ahanmisi, Adamson Soaring Falcons (Last Week: 1st)
Ahanmisi’s value should be established as early as now. He’s an amazing shooter that bends defenses to oblivion, and his growing offensive repertoire is only making things better for the Soaring Falcons.
That’s the problem though: teams are slowly starting to figure it out. After a scorching start to the season, Ahanmisi has *slightly* tapered off when it’s come to his production. This is nitpicking, but in an MVP Race as tight as what we have this year, those little things matter.
Ahanmisi is still an elite prospect, make no mistake about it. But weirdly enough, his overall value to the team maybe his bane as the MVP Race rolls forward. As long as Adamson’s ends up with the championship right?
3. Alvin Pasaol, UE Red Warriors (Last Week: Honorable Mention)
He’s still a high volume shooter. Best player on a bad team? I guess you could say that. But there is ZERO doubt about it: Alvin Pasaol is a ridiculously awesome basketball player.
Coach Joe Silva used an interesting tactic to start their game versus the FEU Tamaraws: Make Alvin come off the bench. It was enough to raise the confidence of the other Red Warriors, and once Alvin went in, things could only get better.
There’s zero doubt that Alvin is a great player. Now he’s taking the next step in his evolution: making the players around him even better. It’s a tough task, especially when you consider how young and raw these Red Warriors are, but it’s possible. This is step one: playing off the bench. It’s one that could pay off in the long run.
2. Juan Gomez de Liano, UP Fighting Maroons (Last Week: 5th)
Coach Bo Perasol has always had one guard to run his team around. David. Ravena. Desiderio. Now Gomez de Liano. Despite being just a second-year player, Juan GDL has looked every bit worthy of being a franchise centerpiece.
The most beautiful thing about Juan GDL: his ability to play as either a ball screen guard or someone who plays off the rest of his teammates. It’s that kind of versatility that makes him such a unique offensive threat. Make him create? No worries. Need to go off screens? He’s a good enough shooter to do just that.
The UP Fighting Maroons have plenty of talent, but it’s easy to see who the most talented player is. Juan Gomez de Liano is a special prospect, who despite his age, is more than capable of taking on the responsibility of a franchise player.
1. Angelo Kouame, Ateneo Blue Eagles (Last Week: 2nd)
After a rocky start versus the Adamson Soaring Falcons, Angelo Kouame has since then settled down with some consistency. His scoring has been spotty, he still jumps off shot fakes at times, but his value can be captured with two words: motor and length.
Ateneo has never had a big man quite like Kouame. Not only is he 6’11”, but he’s an agile 6’11” at that. Attacking him off a pick and roll switch is pretty pointless, he’s nimble and long enough to cover the quickest of guards. Despite not being as muscular as other FSAs, Kouame is sneaky strong. Mix all of that with how active he is, and you have a defensive savant unlike any other.
That’s what makes the Blue Eagles so deadly: defense. Their defense last year was terrifying, but Kouame’s presence turns that up a notch even further. The start wasn’t pretty. Slowly but surely, the Blue Eagles are starting to figure things out, and a large part of that has been the dominance of Angelo Kouame.