EYES ON YOU, KID: NCAA 93 Jrs. players to watch

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 06, 2017 07:44 PM
EYES ON YOU, KID: NCAA 93 Jrs. players to watch
SCOUTING REPORT. Two Arellano Braves, three Malayan Red Robins, two CSB-LSGH Junior Blazers, one San Beda Red Cub, two LPU Junior Pirates, one Perpetual Junior Alta, and one EAC Brigadier make up this season's standouts.

The first round of the NCAA 93 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with.

And we can’t wait for the second round to get started just so we could get even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players:

AARON FERMIN – Arellano High School

(blue jersey #11)

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.0 points, 42.2 percent shooting, 18.0 rebounds, 1.9 blocks

Bar none, Aaron Fermin has been the most valuable player for his team.

Valuable in the sense that, without him, Arellano may very well be dwelling in the bottom-half of the standings.

But they’re not and much of it is because of their six-foot-five unstoppable force and immovable object who is averaging an extraordinary double-double of 17.0 points and 18.0 rebounds on top of 1.9 blocks.

Since last season, Fermin has anchored the Braves’ defense and by doing so until now, he finds himself as the league’s top rebounder and fifth-best shot blocker.

This season, however, he has also proved he can lead an offense. In fact, he, the big man who makes a living in the paint, is the league’s second-leading scorer.

WILL GOZUM/WARREN BONIFACIO – Malayan High School of Science

GOZUM’S (yellow jersey, with ball) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.0 points, 45.8 percent shooting, 9.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.1 blocks

BONIFACIO’S (yellow jersey #15) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.1 points, 47.5 percent shooting, 11.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 blocks

You can’t talk about Will Gozum without mentioning Warren Bonifacio and you can’t talk about Warren Bonifacio without Will Gozum.

Arellano may have the best big man in all of high school, but Malayan has two standout big men of their own.

In Gozum, they have a six-foot-four tower who averages 12 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks and who can change a game at either end at any point of time.

And in Bonifacio, they have a six-foot-three tower who never stops working and just ends up with a double-double game in and game out as his per game counts of 11.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks tell you.

On the shoulders of their twin towers, the Red Robins have been pacing the tournament.

And on the shoulders of their twin towers, the defending champions remain slight favorites to win it all again.

EVAN NELLE – San Beda High School

(red jersey, with ball)

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.9 points, 18 total threes, 5.2 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.3 steals

San Beda is a no superstar team – the last so-called superstar they had was Andrei Caracut four years ago.

For three seasons now, they have relied on players who can do anything and everything.

The most impressive of that bunch this time around has been Evan Nelle who looks like he has finally figured out how to complement his physical tools with the cerebral instinct necessary for a pointman.

Still a good scorer with 12.9 points per game and already with a total of 18 threes, the biggest development for the reed-thin guard is the fact that he is now the league’s top playmaker with 7.0 assists per game.

INAND FORNILOS – College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills

(green jersey defending white jersey)

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.2 points, 64.8 percent shooting, 10.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks

CSB-LSGH has just completed a rare elimination round sweep of dynastic San Beda and Inand Fornilos was the biggest difference.

Don’t believe us? Even Red Cubs head coach JB Sison said so. “Iba yung dinala sa kanila nung Fornilos,” he said.

Indeed, for a team that has been searching for an inside presence for four years since the graduation of Prince Rivero, the boys from Greenhills finally have one in the transferee from University of Sto. Tomas.

And with per game counts of 12.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks, the workhorse just may replicate in the NCAA Juniors the Mythical selection he garnered earlier in the year in the UAAP Juniors.

CLINT ESCAMIS – Malayan High School

(yellow jersey, with ball)

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.0 steals

With former MVP Mike Enriquez focused on just making his teammates look good, the role as do-it-all guy for Malayan was up for grabs.

Clint Escamis has done nothing but grab it in only his second season with the squad.

An off-the-bench player who was just tasked to bring energy a season ago, the six-foot-one swingman can now be found all over the court, collecting his averages of 14.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.0 steals.

And now, head coach Randy Alcantara may have just made himself another end-to-end stud. The rich only get richer, yes, defending champions? 

VINCENT CUNANAN/MAC GUADANA – Lyceum of the Philippines University

CUNANAN’S (red jersey, with ball) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.2 points, 50.0 percent shooting, 5.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.4 steals

GUADANA’S (red jersey, with ball) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steals

What Malayan has in its frontcourt, LPU has in its backcourt.

Vincent Cunanan and Mac Guadana may be interchangeable, but they nonetheless make up the two parts that keep the Junior Pirates’ ship sailing.

Both starting combo guards, Cunanan has just a bit more shine on both ends with norms of 16.2 points on 50 percent shooting, 5.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and a league-leading 2.4 steals.

Still, it was Guadana who suited up for Batang Gilas and his numbers of 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.0 steals give us a glimpse why.

JOEL CAGULANGAN – College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills

(white jersey, with ball)

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.8 points, 43.0 percent shooting, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 steals

Fornilos may be the difference-maker, but Joel Cagulangan is the straw that stirs the drink for CSB-LSGH.

With Fornilos and Joshua Marcos up front and Albert Bordeos and Joshua David at the wings, the court general has more than enough weapons for whatever battle. More often than not, he decides on the right one at just the right time.

That’s not even counting how he himself is a weapon as his 12.9 points per game, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.4 steals tell you.

More than that, the pointman’s clutch credentials aren’t so bad either as it was him who saved the day for the Junior Blazers in their victories versus Perpetual, San Beda, LPU, and Arellano.

JIELO RAZON – University of Perpetual Help

(maroon jersey, with ball)

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals

The NCAA has a well-kept secret tucked away in Las Pinas and he goes by the name of Jielo Razon.

If Fermin is, bar none, the most valuable player for his team, then Perpetual’s main man isn’t that far behind.

Razon has dragged the talent-lacking upstarts as far as his five-foot-11 frame would allow him – which is as of right now, having a respectable record.

In 32.4 minutes per game, he is averaging 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 steals. And those eight minutes he isn’t on the floor for the Junior Altas? Don’t even try and think about it.

KOBE CAMACHO – Arellano High School

(blue jersey, with ball)

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 15.7 points, 18 total threes, 3.3 rebounds

Arellano lost its top gun with the graduation of Guilmer Dela Torre.

Doing his best impression this season is newcomer Kobe Camacho.

The transferee from LPU has, without a doubt, made an immediate impact with of 15.7 points per game, good for sixth in the league, as well as 18 total threes, good for fourth in the league.

More important for the Braves, however, is how his being a threat from the perimeter makes life so much easier for their behemoths such as Fermin, Ira Bataller, and Resty Fornis.

MAUI CRUZ – Emilio Aguinaldo College

(white jersey defending red jersey)

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 18.3 points, 49/70 from free throws, 4.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals

Maui Cruz is EAC’s everything.

The Brigadiers only have one win to show thus far in the tournament and do not look like they are going to exit the basement of the standings anytime soon.

Just imagine if they didn’t have the league’s leading scorer in Cruz with 18.3 points.

Then just imagine the graduating guard – a player who can get to the line and convert as his 49/70 clip proves and who can also get some rebounds (4.1), assists (2.5), and steals (1.3) – on a team who can surround him with much more talent like him? Scary, huh?

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Peter Alfaro – San Beda High School

JJ Sapinit – Malayan High School of Science

Enoch Valdez – Colegio de San Juan de Letran

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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