Ateneo de Manila High School’s 7-foot-1 stalwart Kai Sotto grabbed a huge lead in the race to the Most Valuable Player award at the conclusion of the first round of Season 81 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) juniors basketball tournament.
Sotto, who was named to the Gilas Pilipinas 20-man training pool for the recently-concluded fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers, collared a league-best 93.3 statistical points (SPs) in seven games.
The 16-year old lanky center was way ahead of his closest contender in University of Sto. Tomas (UST) rookie guard Mark Nonoy, who tallied 70.9 SPs.
Sotto came through with tournament-high numbers of 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. He helped the Blue Eaglets land on a share of the second spot with Far Eastern University (FEU)-Diliman and Adamson High School on identical 5-2 records.
Nonoy, on the other hand, posted an all-around performance of 18.3 points (second in the league), 9.1 rebounds (tenth), 5.7 assists (second) and 1.7 steals (third), lifting the Tiger Cubs to No. 5 with a 3-4 slate.
Ateneo guard Forthsky Padrigao came in third with 70 SPs, but his placing remains questionable as he only played one game this season due to appendicitis.
FEU-Diliman star guard RJ Abarrientos took the fourth spot with 62.6 SPs while Adamson’s Adrian Manlapaz wound up fifth with 60.2 SPs.
The second round of the elimations is set to take place next year.