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Incoming Olympian Lariba favorite for UAAP top athlete as Season 78 formally closes

By Dugout Philippines

QUEZON CITY--The UAAP will fete its student-athletes who made big impact for Season 78 in Saturday's closing ceremonies at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni inside the University of the Philippines campus.

The highlight of the 5 p.m. event is the much-awaited announcement of the league's Athlete of the Year.

Last season, De La Salle table tennis star Yan Lariba, Far Eastern University chesser Janelle Mae Frayna and Ateneo tanker Hannah Dato shared the league's highest individual award.

Lariba, who steered the Lady Archers to a second straight table tennis crown that keyed the school's return as the seniors division general champion, is the sentimental favorite for the Athlete of the Year.

The Cagayan de Oro native also made history by being the first Philippine table tennis player to qualify in the Olympics.

Lariba, who was unbeaten in her five-year UAAP stint, gained a ticket to Rio with her impressive performance in last month’s 2016 ITTF-Asia Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong.

All the MVPs from the league's 15 sports, which includes women's volleyball's Alyssa Valdez, men's basketball Kiefer Ravena, both of Ateneo and men's football Daniel Gadia of UP, are eligible to win the Athlete of the Year plum.

The UAAP will also honor the athlete-scholars who not only excelled in sports but also in academics, while citations will be handed out to the league's athletes who competed in various international tournaments during the 2015-16 season.

Outgoing Season 78 president Dr. Michael Tan of UP will then handthe league flag to incoming Season 79 president Fr. Ermito de Sagun of University of Santo Tomas, who will also give the acceptance speech.

The season saw FEU ending a 10-year title drought to annex a record 20th men's basketball, De La Salle regaining the women's volleyball throne and winning its first-ever women's beach volleyball crown, and UP achieving a golden double in football.

Adamson University also shone by winning its sixth consecutive softball crown, Ateneo topping the men's volleyball for the second straight year, and National University completing another sweep of the lawn tennis titles.

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