Filed Under: Basketball, UAAP, UAAP MVP, UAAP Rookie of the year, RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo, FEU Tamaraws
MANILA, Philippines—Flashing his backcourt savvy right on opening day, Far Eastern University’s Ryan Roose “RR” Garcia went on to capture the 73rd UAAP Most Valuable Player award at the end of the 14-game elimination round Saturday.
Playing only his second year with the Tamaraws, Garcia amassed 59.2 statistical points (SP) after averaging a league-best 16.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steal as leader of the FEU squad that topped the eliminations.
“I tried not to think about the MVP because what’s more important is our goal to win the championship,” Garcia, a former national youth team standout, said in Filipino.
FEU swept the top two individual honors as guard Terrence Romeo also clinched the Rookie of the Year plum.
Romeo, who had 37.78 SP built on averages of eight points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists, continued to make waves a year after setting the UAAP juniors scoring record by firing a phenomenal 83 points in one game as a Baby Tam last year.
The 5-foot-10 Garcia is just the second guard in two decades to clinch the MVP title, following in the footsteps of another former FEU ace, Johnny Abarrientos, who won the award in 1991.
James Yap won in 2003 as a University of the East forward before shifting to the guard position in the pro league.
Few expected Garcia to dominate this year, much less lead an FEU roster stocked with veterans.
“[By the second round], the other teams’ defense focused on me, so my teammates also helped me,” said Garcia, a native of Zamboanga City.
Garcia topped the tight statistical race by less than a point as National University’s Cameroonian center Emmanuel Mbe, the league’s top rebounder, earned 59 SP (13.4 points, 11.7 boards, 1.2 blocks).
“It’s time we pay back RR,” said FEU coach Glenn Capacio. “I told the other players we also needed to win [our last game against Ateneo] for RR. He carried us many times, so it’s time we help him too.”
The league MVP is determined on individual statistics and the team’s won-game bonus.
Surprisingly, not one player from the three other Final Four teams—Ateneo, Adamson and La Salle—made it to the top five.
Rounding up the top performers were league top shotblocker Aldrech Ramos of FEU (58.7 SP-11.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks) and the University of the East duo of Paul Lee (57.7 SP-14.4 markers, 6.7 boards, 4.6 assists, 2.0 steals) and Ken Acibar (50.64 SP-11.6 points, third rebounds 9.0, 1.4 blocks).