For the first time in UAAP history, four extraordinary student-athletes were awarded as Athletes of the Year for the 78th Season of the league.
Rio-bound Ian Lariba, of the De La Salle University women’s table tennis team, led the three others selected for the plum, which was awarded at the closing ceremonies of the recently-concluded season, Saturday at the University of the Philippines’ Bahay ng Alumni.
Lariba concluded her storied five-year UAAP career with an undefeated record en route to two Most Valuable Player awards and three UAAP championships, including this year’s titles. The graduating Management of Financial Institutions major also competed in last year’s Singapore Southeast Asian Games in women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles events.
However, the most notable accomplishment of Lariba is that she snatched one of the berths in the women’s singles event in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this August. She will be the first Filipino athlete to compete in the sport in the Olympiad.
Also acknowledged as AOY was another Olympian, Jessie Khing Lacuna of the champion Ateneo men’s swimming team. Lacuna dominated the competition, despite missing out on a perfect performance on his 7 events. The 2012 London Olympian just missed out on breaking one UAAP record. Nonetheless, Lacuna still broke six UAAP marks, en route to another sweep of the golds in his assigned events.
Not to be outdone was fellow Atenean and women’s volleyball star Alyssa Valdez. Valdez has posted notable numbers throughout the season to capture her third UAAP MVP award. The MA Communication major also led the league in scoring, and bested all players in service aces. She also participated in the 2015 SEA Games.
The last, but definitely not the least, AOY winner is Adamson University’s Queeny Sabobo. The graduating Physical Education major wowed the UAAP softball tournament after grabbing three awards: Most Homeruns, Most Runs Batted In (RBI), and Best Slugger, and was hereby named Season MVP. She also turned in a spectacular performance in Game 3 of the Finals against University of Santo Tomas and grabbed the Finals MVP as well.
Lariba, Lacuna, and Valdez were not present in the night’s ceremonies due to personal reasons, but Sabobo was there to receive hers. The Lady Falcons’ shortstop was honored to be named one of the league’s best.
She said, “pinaka-special to sa kin kasi once in a lifetime lang to mangyayari.” Sabobo hopes that her achievement inspired her fellow athletes in the sport of softball.