Lariba, Sabobo lead UAAP top awardees

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – La Salle’s table tennis ace Ian Lariba and Adamson’s softball standout Queeny Sabobo said the UAAP Season 78 Athlete of the Year award they shared with Ateneo’s popular volleyball star Alyssa Valdez and Olympian swimmer Jessie Khing Lacuna was a shot in the arm not only for themselves personally but for their relatively less popular sports.

“This is an inspiration for me to improve more, to be better pa in my training (for the Rio Olympics),” said Lariba, who wasn’t actually able to personally receive her second straight AoY plum as a competition in Chinatown, Manila prevented her from arriving at the University of the Philippines campus in time for the ceremonies.

“This award is such an honor, it will really give me a confidence boost. That’s why I’m very grateful,” she added.

The 21-year-old Lariba won all her singles assignments in her entire five-year stint and led La Salle to back-to-back crowns. She extended her brilliance internationally as she became the first Phl table tennis bet ever to qualify for the Olympics.

Lariba is set to compete in the pro tour in Japan and Korea next month and see action in the Asean University Games in Singapore in July as part of her buildup for the Rio Games.

For her part, Sabobo, a vital cog in the Lady Falcons’ six-peat, said it was an honor to be chosen as cream of the crop.

“Isa sa mga pangarap ko ang natupad (It’s a dream come true for me),” said the pride of Negros Occidental. “Masaya rin bilang softball player kasi nakuha ang Athlete of the Year kahit hindi naman masyadong sikat ang softball dito (It’s an honor for a softball player like me to be chosen Athlete of the Year as it puts softball, which is not that popular in Manila, in the spotlight, too).”

Sabobo helped the Phl Blu Girls win the gold medal in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games. She currently trains with the national softbelles for their campaign in the Softball World Championship in Surrey, Canada from July 15-24.

For the first time ever, the UAAP decided to give multiple AoY awards, naming winners in two categories, individual sports and team sports.

Lariba shared the top honor in individual play with Lacuna, who broke four UAAP records in a seven-gold romp in swimming. Sabobo was joined in the team sports honor roll by Valdez, who scored a treble in the volleyball MVP race and won Best Scorer and Best Server while leading the Lady Eagles to runner-up behind La Salle.


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