Olympian challenges Valdez, other MVPs for UAAP AoY award
ABS-CBN Sports on May 20, 2016 05:59 PM
Ian Lariba of De La Salle is the sentimental favorite to win the 78th UAAP Athlete of the Year award. (Photo courtesy of ITTF Facebook page)
Rio Olympics-bound Ian Lariba of De La Salle University could be on her way to pocketing back-to-back UAAP Athlete of the Year awards after an impressive swan song in her collegiate career.
The first Filipino table tennis player to qualify in the Summer Olympics set on August 5-21 in Brazil led the Taft-based paddlers to a second straight title and keyed in the school’s return as general champion in the senior’s division.
Lariba is the sentimental favorite to pocket her second AoY award after sharing the recognition last year with Far Eastern University chesser Janelle Mae Frayna and Ateneo tanker Hannah Dato in the formal closing of the successful 78th Season of the UAAP on Saturday at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni inside outgoing host University of the Philippines campus.
The AoY award will highlight the 5:00 p.m. event that will end with the formal passing of the hosting rights to University of Sto. Tomas.
The Cagayan de Oro native, who was unbeaten in her five-year UAAP stint, made history by gaining a golden ticket to Rio with her impressive performance in last month’s 2016 ITTF-Asia Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong.
She also wore the national colors last year in the Singapore Southeast Asian Games and in 2014 was part of Team UAAP-Philippines that participated in the ASEAN University Games.
Lariba will contend against all other the MVPs from the league's 15 sports, which include women's volleyball three-time winner Alyssa Valdez, men's basketball's Kiefer Ravena, both of Ateneo and men's football's Daniel Gadia of UP, for the highest individual plum.
The UAAP will also honor the athlete-scholars who not only excelled in sports but also in academics, while citations will be handed out to the league's athletes who competed in various international tournaments during the 2015-16 season.
Outgoing Season 78 president Dr. Michael Tan of UP will then hand the league flag to incoming Season 79 president Fr. Ermito de Sagun of UST, who will also give the acceptance speech.
The season saw FEU ending a 10-year title drought to annex a record 20th men's basketball crown, De La Salle regaining the women's volleyball throne and winning its first-ever women's beach volleyball crown, and UP achieving a golden double in football.
UST collected titles from women's athletics, men's and team taekwondo and women's judo whole University of the East had a golden double in fencing and scored an upset in women's taekwondo.
Adamson University also shone by winning its sixth consecutive softball crown, Ateneo topping men's volleyball for the second straight year and National University completing another sweep of the lawn tennis titles.