THEY may come from University Athletic Association of the Philippines rival schools, but for De La Salle University’s table tennis star Ian Lariba and Ateneo de Manila University’s swimming phenom Jessie Khing Lacuna, they set this aside when competing for the Philippines.
“There’s no such thing as rivalry when it comes to being ONE for the country. Good to see you as well “Khing” of UAAP swimming, @jessielacuna00 :) Thank you to UAAP for this recognition. We greatly appreciate it!#AteneanLasallianOlympians,” said Lariba on her Instagram post.
Lariba and Lacuna were among the student-athletes who were recognized for their participation in international competitions this year in the ceremony held on Wednesday before Game 2 of the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball Finals at the Araneta Coliseum.
The country’s flag bearer in the Rio Olympics last August, Lariba also competed in the 18th ASEAN University Games in Singapore where the Cagayan de Oro native captured a silver medal in the women’s singles event, and settled for bronze medals in the women’s doubles and women’s team category.
Lacuna may have missed the AUG but the pride of Bulacan made it up by competing for the second straight Olympics.
The two were among the UAAP Season 78 co-Athlete of the Year, which includes Ateneo volleybelle Alyssa Valdez and Adamson softball standout Queeny Sabobo.
Other UAAP athletes joined in the ASEAN University Games were also feted. In the Singapore edition, the Filipinos won three golds each courtesy of athletics and fencing.
National University, the three-time UAAP women’s basketball titlist, won a silver medal, while the highly-popular Ateneo’s women’s and men’s volleyball teams clinched bronze medals.
The recognition coincides with the basketball awarding ceremony, where De La Salle’s Ben Mbala and NU’s Afril Bernardino led the winners, capturing the season MVP honors in the men’s and women’s division.