MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) center Soulemane Chabi Yo certainly left an impression on the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles after the first meeting between the teams in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament.
Chabi Yo, a transferee from Colegio de San Lorenzo, was virtually unstoppable in the first three quarters of their game last Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum. His relentless activity helped UST build a 56-53 lead after three quarters. He also wowed the UST community with a tomahawk dunk midway through the frame – one of his two throwdowns in the contest.
It wasn't until the fourth quarter that Chabi Yo was finally slowed down, when Ateneo stuck its own center, Ange Kouame, on him. Kouame came up with a huge rejection of the Beninese big man with 24 seconds to go, which helped the Blue Eagles come away with a 71-70 triumph.
"Chabi, he's a handful," Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said after the game.
Chabi Yo finished with 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting, on top of 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and one steal.
Ateneo threw several defenders at Chabi Yo, starting with William Navarro before Kouame took over. The Ivorian center had to sit out with three fouls at the start of the third quarter, however, prompting Baldwin to tap Pat Maagdenberg.
"Maagdenberg went in and got physical, and that was another look for Chabi Yo to see, to have to deal with," he explained.
"It's kind of a scenario of you have to throw quantity at him, more than quality because he's such high quality," he added.
Chabi Yo, for his part, said he learned plenty from going up against the defending champions.
"It was a nice game," said the 6-foot-6 big man. "We tried to do our best, even if we were many rookies, nine rookies, and was facing the defending champion."
"We had little bit pressure, but we fight. We fight, and we was going for the win," he added. "But you know, Ateneo is a very good team, and they are more experienced than us, and we had many mistakes because we are rookies."
But with him at the forefront, the Growling Tigers gave Ateneo its toughest challenge of the season so far, and Chabi Yo is looking forward to having a second chance against the defending champions.
"We'll try to learn from our mistake and come back more stronger," he promised.
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