MANILA, Philippines — Malick Diouf may not be as dominant on the offensive end as other foreign student-athletes but University of the Philippines coach Goldwin Monteverde said the Senegalese center’s team-first mentality is a blessing for them.
The 6-foot-11 big man delivered his best offensive game as a Fighting Maroon, finishing with a career-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting on top of eight rebounds and five steals in UP’s 91-70 victory over Adamson to keep the solo lead in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
More than his career game in scoring, Monteverde praised the Season 84 Finals MVP for being a good leader to his teammates.
“Actually, Malick’s attitude ever since would always be team first. During practices, he would really stress to his team how we should really play the game. He’s always there to remind everybody to execute well on both ends,” the UP coach said.
Diouf is not as big a scorer as the other big men in the league, averaging just 8.63 points, 9.63 rebounds, and 1.75 blocks in their first eight games. But Monteverde stressed the impact of having him on their team.
“I feel very blessed, our team is very blessed to have him as part of our team. A student-athlete like him is rare. He would really think about being selfless for his team,” the UAAP champion coach said.
Diouf said he just wants to embrace his role as UP’s “Kuya (older brother).”
“I’m here to help the team, to handle the guys. Because I think right now, I’m part of the kuyas,” he said.
The foreign big man still credited his stellar play to his teammates as UP dominated Adamson in the second half and stretched its win streak to five for an 8-1 record.
“I think we worked for it. All my teammates, we did it together. We started strong and we finished strong. We did a good job. I’m happy for it,” Diouf said.
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