MANILA, Philippines—Before they battle each other in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball finals, big men Bright Akhuetie and Ange Kouame received individual awards for their efforts in the elimination round.
Akhuetie formally accepted his Most Valuable Player award, after averaging 18.9 points and 14.6 rebounds per game for the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons. He is the first UP player to be named MVP since Eric Altamirano in 1986.
Meanwhile, Kouame won Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 14.4 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game for the top-seeded Blue Eagles. He is the first Atenean to receive the top rookie award since Arvin Tolentino in Season 77. He is also the first foreign student-athlete to win the trophy.
Though Kouame is a foreigner, he is eligible for the award as he graduated from a local high school, the Multiple Intelligence International School, last May, where he studied for two years. Any player who graduates from a local high school does not need to undergo residency and is thus eligible for individual awards.
Joining Akhuetie in the Mythical 5 are UP teammate Juan Gomez de Liano, University of the East's scoring machine Alvin Pasaol, De La Salle University's Justine Baltazar, and Adamson University's Jerrick Ahanmisi.
Gomez de Liano also received a special award as the Manulife Playmaker of the Season, as well as the Milo Nutri Up "Up Your Galing" award.
Adamson's Sean Manganti earned the Appeton Most Improved Player award, along with the PS Bankable Player of the Season.
Ahead of Game 2 of the women's basketball finals, University of Santo Tomas center Grace Irebu received her MVP trophy, while teammate Reynalyn Ferrer won rookie of the year.
Joining Irebu in the Mythical 5 were National University's Jack Animam, UST's Sai Larosa, Adamson's Nathalie Prado, and Far Eastern University's Clare Castro.
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