Carl Tamayo shrugs off MVP talks

Winning individual accolades is the least of University of the Philippines forward Carl Tamayo’s concerns.

Like the rest of the Fighting Maroons, Tamayo is focused on the bigger picture of defending their title when Season 85 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament unwraps on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The 21-year-old sophomore shunned early talks of being a top favorite for the Most Valuable Player award alongside naturalized player Ange Kouame of Ateneo de Manila University.

Tamayo and Kouame were the top names that coaches mentioned when asked who they think will win the top individual award during the tournament press conference last Wednesday.

But winning the MVP crown is the last thing on Tamayo’s mind.

“It’s not on my mind. I didn’t come here in the UAAP to aspire for individual awards,” Tamayo, a Gilas Pilipinas standout and the Rookie of the Year in Season 84, said.

Tamayo said he does not want MVP talks to distract him from his goal of helping the Fighting Maroons retain the hard-earned title they won in three games at the expense of the Blue Eagles four months ago that snapped their 36-year championship drought.

“It’s all about the team first, I think,” the Season 84 Mythical Team member said.

“I’m just going to work hard, play hard. Help the team win the games and whatever the outcome is, I’ll be happy.”

Tamayo added that the Fighting Maroons right now already have a huge target on their backs, so he does not want to be pressured even more by eyeing other recognitions other than being called champions once again.

“We know what it takes to be champions. The hard work we put in during the bubble. The sacrifices we made. We’ve seen the work we had to do to win the title,” he said.

“The pressure will always be there. We’ve prepared so hard. We trained hard for this season to take the pressure out. We are prepared for war.”

The Fighting Maroons will open their title-retention bid against De La Salle University.

Tamayo along with holdovers JD Cagulangan, Finals MVP Malick Diouf and forward Zavier Lucero will be back to carry the fight for UP.

“This is not about me, it’s about us – all 16 of us who will play this season,” he said.

“I’ll fulfill the role coach Goldwin (Monteverde) wants me to play on the team whether it’s rebounding or defense. I’ll do it.”

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