Rhenz Abando claimed the NCAA Season 97 Most Valuable Player and the Rookie of the Year awards in a ceremony held before Game 2 of the Finals at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Abando became only the fourth player in NCAA history to win both awards since Mapua’s Allwell Oraeme did the feat in 2015, San Beda’s Sam Ekwe in 2006 and Philippine Christian University’s Gabby Espinas in 2004 and the first Knight to win the top individual plum since Raymond Almazan in 2013.
The 24-year-old high leaper beat Arellano center Justin Arana and Letran teammate Jeo Ambohot for the award.
Arana actually led the statistical race with 58.75 Player Average Value but Abando, who finished second with 48.44, edged out the 6-foot-7 big man after powering Letran to a perfect record in the elimination and a return trip to the NCAA Finals.
Ambohot placed third with 47.22 PAV while College of St. Benilde’s Will Gozum (45.88) and San Sebastian’s JM Calma (41.77) round out the Mythical Team selection.
Arana was hailed as the Defensive Player of the Year for the second time after collaring a total of 137 boards, 23 blocks and four steals. He was joined by Gozum, Ambohot, Calma, EAC’s Nat cosejo and Lyceum’s Omar Larupay in the Best Defensive team.
Mapua’s Paolo Hernandez won the Most Improved Player award, jumping from the 35th SP ranking last season to 10th in Season 97.
Sportsmanship award went to the Perpetual Help Altas.