THE seventh weekend of UAAP Season 81 saw record-setting performances, with two players from reigning champion squads shining the brightest as Ria Nabalan of the National University Lady Bulldogs and Angelo Kouame of the Ateneo Blue Eagles put up individual performances that made it to the history books.
That prompted scribes covering the league to award the Chooks-to-Go/Collegiate Sports Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week citation to both Nabalan and Kouame - the first time the body has given the weekly honor to two players.
Nabalan, also the first-ever women's cager to win the award, dropped a whopping 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting to lead the four-time champion Lady Bulldogs to their 72nd straight victory - just a win away from tying the UAAP seniors record for longest winning streak.
Even her head coach Patrick Aquino was delighted to be a witness to history.
"Sobrang happy that everything was falling for (Nabalan). It’s only a once-in-a-lifetime na makakuha siya ng forty points. Sobrang saya,” he said after NU's 111-64 win over the DLSU Lady Archers last Saturday.
Only two other players have ever reached the 40-point mark in the women's division of the league.
FEU Lady Tamaraw Raiza Palmera was the first to achieve the feat back in 2011, scoring 44 points in an 85-80 win over the UE Lady Warriors. A year later, fellow Lady Tamaraw Allana Lim dropped 45 points in another rout of UE, 85-43.
Kouame made history of his own.
The absences of Thirdy Ravena and Nieto twins Mike and Matt were hardly felt by the Blue Eagles against the FEU Tamaraws as the 6-foot-10 Ivorian student-athlete finished with a 30-20 game to lead Ateneo to a dominant 82-62 victory.
Kouame had a 33-point 27-rebound double-double that was the first of its kind since 2008. Former Blue Eagle Rabeh Al-Hussaini last reached the feat back in July 31, 2008, registering 33 points and 20 rebounds in Ateneo's 66-72 loss to FEU.
Moreover, his rebounding total was the most the league has seen in 15 years while his points scored was the most for a Blue Eagle in four years.
But even with this kind of outing, Ateneo's staff believes that Kouame is only scratching the surface of his potential.
"We’re very happy with his development and we’d like to think of it that he’ll still continue to improve," shared Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga. "That’s the mentality of coach Tab [Baldwin] - kung anong talents niya, he will continue to improve it and he will continue teaching."
The co-Players of the Week bested UP Fighting Maroons sophomore Juan Gomez de Liano who himself became the first player in the UAAP's men's division to notch a triple-double in 12 years.