MANILA, Philippines – CJ Cansino of University of Santo Tomas (UST) held off all challengers – including a pair of Ateneo Blue Eaglets – to come away with Most Valuable Player award in the UAAP Season 80 juniors basketball tournament.
The swingman averaged 24.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.4 steals per game for the Tiger Cubs in the elimination round, and finished with 88.42 statistical points (SPs).
Cansino won the award over Ateneo's towering Kai Sotto (70.21 SPs) and Blue Eaglets point guard SJ Belangel (68.86 SPs).
He is the first Tiger Cub to win the top individual honor in the UAAP juniors division since Kevin Ferrer in 2010.
Cansino built a massive lead over Sotto at the end of the first round, and managed to hold on to the top spot even though the Tiger Cubs won only two of their seven games in the second round.
They still finished with a 7-7 record and will play the Adamson Baby Falcons for the final playoff spot on Wednesday.
Sotto, last season's Rookie of the Year, made it to the Mythical Team after averaging 12.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game. He is joined by Belangel, who normed 17.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.7 steals per game for the Blue Eaglets.
LJ Gonzales, the main man of defending champion Far Eastern University-Diliman Baby Tamaraws, is the fourth member of the Mythical Five. Gonzales normed 15.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.3 steals per game while helping the Baby Tams clinch the third seed.
Meanwhile, Sean Ildefonso is the third Ateneo player to qualify for the Mythical Five. He normed 13.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game for the Blue Eaglets.
Ateneo advanced to the finals outright after winning all 14 of their elimination round games. UST and Adamson will compete for the last playoff spot, with the winner taking on FEU-Diliman. The winner of that game then advances to play the National University Bullpups.
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