Thirdy, Kai shine brightest among last decade's UAAP Jrs. MVPs

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Apr 03, 2020 03:20 PM
Thirdy shines brightest among last decade's UAAP Jrs. MVPs
(Photo by Arvin Lim)

Ateneo de Manila High School can stake claim to having the most MVP trophies in the UAAP Jrs. in the last decade.

In Thirdy Ravena (2014), Mike Nieto (2015), and Kai Sotto (2019), Blue Eaglets make up 30 percent of the league's top individual players from 2011 to 2020.

Even more, the most successful, thus far, among all of them also hail from Katipunan.

Ravena had just wrapped up a collegiate career that saw him win three championships and two Finals MVPs. Now, he will be suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas all while taking his talents to Japan's B.League.

Also making waves outside the Philippines is Sotto - the 7-foot-2, 17-year-old who is hard at work at becoming the first fully blooded Filipino to play in the NBA.

Make no mistake, Nieto hasn't done so bad for himself, either, as he also won three championships in college and is now part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool.

Another former UAAP Jrs. MVP now wearing the flag is Juan Gomez de Liano (2017) from the University of the Philippines Integrated School. Before this, he was a key cog in the climb out of the cellar of UP's Srs. Squad.

The first UAAP Jrs. MVP of the decade was University of Sto. Tomas' Kevin Ferrer who himself has carved out quite the career, clinching a UAAP Mythical selection and two PBA titles en route to now seeing action for NorthPort Batang Pier.

Of course, it's way too early to tell what will happen with the most recent MVP in Adamson High School pride Jake Figueroa, but for sure, he is off to a strong start even as he has one more year as a Baby Falcon.

Meanwhile, Aljun Melecio of De La Salle Zobel (2016) and CJ Cansino of UST (2018) are shining stars in the UAAP Srs. with the former entering his last year as a Green Archer and the latter headed to his third season as a Growling Tiger.

Most interesting among top individual players of the last 10 years in the UAAP Jrs., however, is Far Eastern University-Diliman's Jerie Pingoy.

He was the only player to hoist more than one trophy - and he did so in back-to-back seasons in 2012 and 2013.

Unfortunately, Pingoy wasn't able to reach those same heights after his time as a Baby Tamaraw.

First, he found himself in the middle of a debate on eligibility and forced the so-called "Pingoy Rule" which required two-year residency for student-athletes who transfer from one UAAP high school to another UAAP college.

Ultimately, Congress itself stepped in and passed a bill into law that prohibits residency rules on high school graduates transferring to a different school for college.

Finally eligible to play, the 5-foot-9 playmaker had two up-and-down years with the Blue Eagles before eventually ending as backup to Matt Nieto and out of the team due to academic issues.

Pingoy landed on his feet in Adamson University and showed some promise in 2017, but bone spurs in his left foot robbed him of an encore.

He begged off from his supposed fifth and final year of eligibility in 2019 and instead took the time to let his foot get back to full strength.

The 25-year-old is now hoping to revive a career that, at one point, looked limitless as he plays for Karate Kid-CEU in the suspended 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.

Here is the full list of UAAP Jrs. MVP in the last decade:

2011 - Kevin Ferrer, F, UST

2012 - Jerie Pingoy, G, FEU-Diliman

2013 - Jerie Pingoy, G, FEU-Diliman

2014 - Thirdy Ravena, F, Ateneo

2015 - Mike Nieto, F, Ateneo

2016 - Aljun Melecio, G, DLSZ

2017 - Juan GDL, G, UPIS

2018 - CJ Cansino, G/F, UST

2019 - Kai Sotto, C, Ateneo

2020 - Jake Figueroa, F, Adamson


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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