NU's 40-point scorer Ria Nabalan is first-ever Women's Player of the Week
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 22, 2018 11:03 AM
Lady Bulldog Ria Nabalan makes history as the first-ever Player of the Week from the Women's division
The seventh weekend of the UAAP Season 81 Seniors Basketball Tournament saw multiple record-setting performances from the league's finest student-athletes.
But two cagers from the two defending champion squads shone the brightest as Ria Nabalan of the National University Lady Bulldogs and Angelo Kouame of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles put up individual performances that will forever be part of the history books.
With this, the hardworking men and women covering the beat from both print and online have decided to award the Chooks-to-Go/Collegiate Sports Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week citation to both Nabalan and Kouame - the first time the body has given the weekly honor to two players.
For her part, Nabalan, also the first-ever women's cager to win the award, dropped a whopping 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting to lead the reigning, four-time champions to their 72nd straight win - just a win away from tying the UAAP Seniors record for longest winning streak.
Even her head coach Patrick Aquino was delighted to be a witness to that moment.
"Sobrang happy that everything was falling for (Nabalan). It’s only a once-in-a-lifetime na makakuha siya ng forty points. Sobrang saya,” he beamed after NU's 111-64 win over the DLSU Lady Archers last Saturday.
How rare was it?
Only two other players have ever reached the 40-point mark in the women's division of the league.
FEU Lady Tamaraw Raiza Palmera was the first to achieve the feat back in 2011, scoring 44 points in an 85-80 win over the UE Lady Warriors. A year later, fellow Lady Tamaraw Allana Lim did the same, dropping 45 points in another rout of UE, 85-43.
Later in the day, Kouame made history of his own.
The absences of Thirdy Ravena and Nieto twins Mike and Matt were hardly felt by the defending men's champions in their game against the FEU Tamaraws as the 6-foot-10 Ivorian student-athlete finished with a 30-20 game to lead Ateneo to a dominant 82-62 victory.
Kouame had an imposing 33-point, 27-rebound double-double that was the first of its kind since 2003. Moreover, his rebounding total was the most the league has seen in 15 years while his points scored was the most for a Blue Eagle in four years.
But even with this kind of outing, Ateneo's staff believes that Kouame is only scratching the surface of his potential.
"We’re very happy with his development and we’d like to think of it that he’ll still continue to improve," shared Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga. "That’s the mentality of coach Tab [Baldwin] - kung anong talents niya, he will continue to improve it and he will continue teaching."
The co-Players of the Week bested UP Fighting Maroons sophomore Juan Gomez de Lianowho himself became the first player in the UAAP's Men's division to notch a triple-double in 12 years.