National University has two prized foreign student-athletes on their roster.
You already know one of them in Cameroonian Alfred Aroga – a Mythical selection last season as well as a former champion and Finals MVP.
The other one you most probably don’t know is Issa Gaye – a Senegalese center who stands six-foot-10 and is far more athletic than Aroga.
Due to UAAP rules, only one of them will be on the Bulldogs final lineup for Season 79 – and that is set to be Aroga.
Apparently, however, that hasn’t stopped the 24-year-old veteran from already starting to pass the torch to the 19-year-old who is yet to play a single game in the league. “He’s always teaching me. He’s been helping me a lot,” Gaye shared, referring to Aroga.
Does that include Aroga’s never-changing stern demeanor and poker face? Well, that’s one thing the Senegalese would never learn as he said, “When I’m playing, I’m smiling. You might think I’m not focusing, but that’s how I play.”
He then continued, “If I’m really, really serious, I lose focus.”
As it turns out, NU’s Cameroonian big man does know how to smile, but just doesn’t want to. “When I smile, I feel like, sometimes, I wanna die. I don’t like smiling,” he shared.
He also added, feeling really strongly about what he was expressing, “I don’t know why, but smiling is something really not good to me.”
However, Aroga had some good news to share in that the warmth of the people in the Philippines has spread into his smile-hating self. “I’m thankful because the Filipinos really changed me. I can talk to people now,” he said.
He then continued, “I can smile now, konti lang.”
So when you see Alfred Aroga, appreciate the moment, because remember, you taught him that even though that has to be killing him inside.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.