Five weeks into the UAAP Men’s Basketball tournament season, the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers have copped the Player of the Week four times.
It may be surprising that the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers have been staying atop the UAAP standings this season, but what’s more surprising is who’s leading the way for the España cagers. At the forefront of it all is fifth-year guard Ed Daquioag.
UST head coach Bong dela Cruz said, however, he expected Daquoiag to perform at this level since last year. “Hindi na ko nagtataka dun sa performance ni Ed. Summer pa lang nakita ko na ‘to, last year pa lang,” he said. “Unfortunately, last year na-injure siya. Hindi na ko nagtataka, natural na yang performance sa kanya.”
The athletic 22-year-old, currently leading the league in scoring, ceded control to Kevin Ferrer in the previous weeks. But he came to the fore again as he capped UST’s glorious first-round run with a career-best performance.
Daquioag, this week’s ACCEL Quantum/3XVI-UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week, punished the University of the East frontline as he scored 34 points, on an efficient 61% clip, in 36 minutes of action last Wednesday. As UE threatened to hijack the game in the final period, the Ilocos Norte-native slashed through the lanes in scoring 12 points that provided cushion that eventually led to their sixth win in seven games.
With just one loss in their slate, Daquioag believes that the setback to National University woke up the sleeping beast within the team. “Pag hindi kami natalo sa NU hindi kami ganito,” he said. “Naging pampagising sa amin iyon kasi parang nagre-relax na kami nun.”
Daquioag and the Growling Tigers then opened their second-round campaign with another come-from-behind win against De La Salle University last Sunday. The UST senior tallied 17 points in a game that saw five España cagers score in double-figures.
Daquioag said he is taking his game to a whole other plane as he aims to enter the pro ranks after his UAAP career. “Talagang sine-set ko na ang sarili ko na maglaro ng ganito kasi ang goal ko is to go to the PBA. Siyempre higher level na doon at kailangan ko i-match yung level na yun.”