KAI-vals Series: Arellano's all grown up Aaron Fermin

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 16, 2018 09:05 PM
KAI-vals Series: Arellano's all grown up Aaron Fermin
Aaron Fermin is shorter than Kai Sotto, but both his body and mind are much more mature

It has become some sort of a cliché now that Kai Sotto is not yet done growing.

Indeed, Ateneo de Manila High School’s 7-foot-1, 15-year-old still has three more years to tower over the competition in high school.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the rest of the competition will just take that lying down.

Here, we take a look at the players who are more than capable of challenging Sotto’s dominance – now and even onto the future.

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Coach Marvin Bienvenida bypassed Kai Sotto as the top overall pick in the first-ever NBTC All-Star Game Draft.

Instead, the NCAA Juniors champion coach went with his prized ward in La Salle Greenhills in Joel Cagulangan.

After all, in his eyes, Cagulangan’s heart is as big as Sotto’s physique.

More than that, Bienvenida also already had it all plotted out how to match up with Sotto.

The first step of his plan was to use his second selection on Aaron Fermin – all 6-foot-5 and 99 kg of him.

Fermin was the pillar of Arellano High School and would have been the NCAA Juniors MVP if only his team had made the Final Four.

Now, the NCAA’s arguable best big man will finally be matched up against the UAAP’s undisputed best big man.

And when the NBTC All-Star Game rolls along, Sotto should expect not only a physically stronger Fermin, but a mentally stronger one as well.

That comes from all he has learned from the Braves’ missed playoff bid. “Ang naging kulang ko po siguro (last season), kung lamang na ang kalaban, ako na ang unang pinanghihinaan ng loob,” he said.

From that, Fermin and the rest of his teammates are already hard at work, gearing up for their mighty rebound next season. “Sabi nga po ni coach [Tylon Darjuan], ‘Dalawang taon na tayong malakas, bakit ganito nangyayari sa atin. Kailangan pa ba kayong pahirapan sa ensayo para palabasin character niyo,’” he shared.

He then continued, “Ngayon, pinu-push niya kami na mag-ensayo nang mag-ensayo. Training namin, ‘di na tulad nang dati, sobrang pinapahirapan talaga kami ngayon.”

And Fermin, long a player who has taken a backseat to the likes of Carlo Abadeza, Guilmer Dela Torre, and Marlon Espiritu, is all ready and raring to lead the way. “Handang-handa na po ako (maging leader). Sinabihan na talaga kami ni coach na kami na ang beterano, kami na ang aasahan,” he said.

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Fermin and Sotto will go head-to-head first in the SLAM Rising Stars on March 18 and then on the NBTC All-Star Game on March 23.

The future of Philippine basketball will be LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on S+A, S+A HD, and livestream.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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