Malick Diouf did not have the dream exit from University of the Philippines that he desired.
Instead of lifting the UAAP trophy one more time before his departure, the 6-foot-11 center from Senegal had to watch from the sidelines as the De La Salle University crowd erupted in cheers after a 69-73 defeat, with the Season 86 trophy going over to Taft.
“We fell short, and that’s life. For my career, I think this game will mean a lot,” shared the crestfallen big man.
Regardless, the Centro Escolar University product departs Diliman as one of the most accomplished collegiate players in UAAP history, boasting two runner-up trophies in Seasons 86 and 85, an MVP in Season 85, and a championship in Season 84.
Diouf’s departure leaves a massive hole in the UP frontcourt, but he remains confident that the coach Goldwin Monteverde-led squad will keep themselves competitive in his absence.
Waiting to replace Diouf as UP’s main FSA is Dikachi Udodo, a 6-foot-9 Nigerian center coming over from Guang Ming College, and according to Diouf, he’ll remain easy to contact for the rookie big man or anyone else on the squad even when he no longer dons the Maroon colors.
“I wish also that they go far. No matter how, like what CJ (Cansino) said, we will be there for them wherever we’ll be. If they need help from us, it’s going to be quick and easy,” promised Diouf.
Diouf’s future remains uncertain as the do-it-all big says he will focus on recovering from a multitude of injuries sustained over the course of the physical UAAP season.
“For now, before thinking about what’s next, I’m going to rest well. You know I have a lot of injuries; I have a fracture on my right and left fingers, and I was playing with that. I need to fix it after this and think about what’s next,” he admitted.
The rest of the UP community will prepare for a new era without Diouf as they look to bounce back from back-to-back Finals losses in Season 87, with blue-chip players like Chris Hubilla and Jared Bahay leading the way.