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Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84’s first round


UAAP Season 84 has been a whirlwind. We just started a couple of weeks ago, and now we’re staring at Round 1 from our rear-view mirrors while on our way to Round 2’s tip-off tomorrow, April 12.

It’s been a frantic and hectic last few weeks of collegiate basketball, but that’s certainly better than not having anything at all, eh?

So let’s look back at the first seven gamedays of UAAP Season 84 and see which players basked in the spotlight of excellence. All the following picks are my own, and I mainly used simple player efficiency calculations (while also factoring their fouls drawn per game) to get a measure of their impact on their respective teams.

For the most efficient players all-around, while also considering their positions (at least two frontcourt and at least two backcourt players per five), I’ve distributed them into the First and Second Teams.

Round 1 First Team

UAAP-84-MBB-ADMU-vs.-UP-Ange-Kouame-8663 Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsAnge Kouame (ADMU) – 12.9ppg, 12.3rpg, 2.6bpg
UAAP84-Mens-Basketball-FEU-vs-DLSU-Emmanuel-Ojuola-Bright-Nwankwo-scaled Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsEmmanuel Ojuola (FEU) – 11.1ppg, 12.0rpg, 1.4apgUAAP-84-Mens-Basketball-UP-vs-FEU-Xavier-Lucero-3-1-scaled Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports news
Zav Lucero (UP) – 15.3ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.0spgUAAP-84-MBB-UE-vs.-ADU-Jerom-Lastimosa-9168 Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports news
Jerom Lastimosa (ADU) – 14.4ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.9apgUAAP-84-MBB-FEU-vs.-DLSU-Ljay-Gonzales-1311 Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports news
LJ Gonzales (FEU) – 13.2ppg, 5.7rpg, 3.0apg

– Kouame and Ojuola have been double-double machines for their respective schools, and they’re no doubt the two most dominant bigs in the league. Lucero has been a revelation ever since that opening day loss to Ateneo, and he’s on track to become a true MVP candidate by season’s end. Lastimosa has been the face of the hard-luck Soaring Falcons, and he’s surely garnered a lot of attention from scouts at the next level. As for Gonzales, he’s had a bit of a slow start, but he has picked it up of late and is finally showing his all-around brilliance for FEU.

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Round 1 Second Team

UAAP84-Mens-Basketball-AdU-vs-NU-Douanga-Lenda-scaled Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsLenda Douanga (ADU) – 11.1ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.4bpg
UAAP84-Mens-Basketball-DLSU-vs-UE-Baltazar-Justine-scaled Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsJustine Baltazar (DLSU) – 12.7ppg, 9.0rpg, 3.0apg
UAAP-84-MBB-FEU-vs.-NU-Mike-Malonzo-2223 Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsMichael Malonzo (NU) – 8.9ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.0apg
UAAP-84-MBB-FEU-vs.-NU-Rj-Abarrientos-2216 Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsRJ Abarrientos (FEU) – 14.9ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.6 triples per game
UAAP-84-MBB-ADMU-vs.-UST-Nic-Cabanero-7695 Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsNicael Cabañero (UST) – 12.6ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.6apg

– Balty and RJ are not surprises here, though some probably expected them to be on the First Team. Consistency will be key for both Gilas players moving forward. Douanga has been steady for Adamson, but they’ll need him to be spectacular in Round 2 if they are to stave off any more heartbreaking defeats. Malonzo and Cabañero may raise a lot of eyebrows by being on the Second Team, especially considering some bigger names excluded, but hear me out. Malonzo has been the biggest reason NU has somewhat overachieved, while Cabañero is as good as advertised — the best guard from the born-2003 generation who looks set to inherit the mantle of King Tiger very soon.

Honorable Mentions:
Malick Diouf (UP) – 8.9ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.9bpg
Carl Tamayo (UP) – 12.0ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.4 triples per game
Gian Mamuyac (ADMU) – 9.0ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.6spg

– I wanted to put Tamayo on the Second Team, but he should be able to do more than his current production. Diouf has had flashes of awesomeness, but he needs to be more consistent. Ditto for Mamu, who leads the league in 3pt% and has been the most dangerous Blue Eagle out there outside of Kouame.

Round 1 Defensive Team

UAAP-84-MBB-DLSU-vs.-ADMU-Ange-Kouame-3410 Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsAnge Kouame (ADMU) – 8.0drpg, 2.6bpg
Lenda Douanga (ADU) – 7.4drpg, 1.4bpg
Zav Lucero (UP) – 5.1drpg, 2.0spg, 0.7bpg
Jake Figueroa (ADU) – 4.7drpg, 0.7spg, 0.7bpg
Schonny Winston (DLSU) – 3.9drpg, 2.1spg

– Kouame is the anchor of one of the best defenses in college basketball and the league leader in blocks. Douanga, meanwhile, has been rock-solid, too, on the defensive end. Lucero continues to shine with his versatility and productivity on D, while Winston has been an aggressive defender, and it has often paid off for DLSU. Figueroa is the wild card here, but the former UAAP Juniors MVP is one of the best rebounding wingmen out there while also nearly putting up 1 steal and 1 block per contest.

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Round 1 Best Sixth Man

UAAP-84-Mens-Basketball-ADU-vs-FEU-Rhonjay-Abarrientos-scaled Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsRJ Abarrientos (FEU) – 14.9ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.6 triples per game, 2.3apg
Honorable Mention: Nicael Cabañero (UST) – 12.6ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.6apg, 1.3spg, 1.0 triples per game

– Believe it or not, RJ has come off the bench more times than he has started for FEU, and he’s meant to be the dynamo of coach Olsen Racela’s second unit. He also set the season record for single-game scoring with 33 points last April 2. Cabañero, for his part, is the only “true rookie” (he’s a bona fide college freshman) among the top 10 scorers this season, and that’s with him mostly as a reserve!

Round 1 Best Newcomer

UAAP-84-Mens-Basketball-UP-vs-FEU-Xavier-Lucero-2-1-scaled Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsZav Lucero (UP) – 15.3ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.0spg, 1.9apg, 62.3 FG%
Honorable Mention: Emmanuel Ojuola (FEU) – 11.1ppg, 12.0rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0bpg, 48.4 FG%

– Most of the time, super hyped up newcomers fall a bit short of expectations, and during opening weekend, that seemed to be the case with Lucero. Ever since then, however, he has been on a tear, carrying UP to six wins in a row. Ojuola, for his part, has been a great complement to FEU’s usually prolific backcourt, and he leads the league in offensive boards. Ojuola is actually the second-best center out there, right behind…

Round 1 MVP

UAAP-84-Mens-Basketball-DLSU-vs-ADMU-Kakou-Kouame-scaled Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports newsAnge Kouame (ADMU) – 12.9ppg, 12.3rpg, 2.6bpg, 58.0 FG%
Honorable Mention: Zav Lucero (UP) – 15.3ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.0spg, 1.9apg, 62.3 FG%

– Kouame is the best player on the best team. This was actually a bit of a tossup between him and Lucero, but in terms of the body of work, consistency, and team performance, Kouame has the slightest of edges. He leads the league in total rebounds and blocks, and he also has the highest plus-minus at the end of Round 1 — he averages a plus-12.9 per game, which is absolutely crazy. Lucero, on the other hand, is rapidly rising. In terms of efficiency, he’s on track to surpass Kouame soon, assuming he continues to produce the way he has after opening weekend. We’re talking about a new guy who leads the league in scoring and total FGs made while also among the top 10 in both steals and blocks. How crazy is that?!

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All UAAP games stream live on GigaPlay presented by Yamaha. Download it now on Android or IOS.SMART-x-Yamaha Hoop Nut: The best of UAAP 84's first round ADMU AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball DLSU FEU NU UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports news

Written By

Enzo Flojo is a columnist for FIBA and an assistant coach for the Ateneo Blue Eaglets. His motto in life is to never be afraid to lose.


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