NCAA 95: Mapua has full faith Pao Hernandez can be next king of the sky

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 16, 2019 06:43 PM
Mapua has full faith Hernandez can be next king of the sky
Pao Hernandez has been making an immediate impact for young Mapua (Photo by Josh Albelda)

Pao Hernandez took until just one month to go before the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament to completely commit to Mapua University.

This, long after he wowed just about everybody in Mapua High School’s championship run last season.

Once Hernandez completely committed to continue in Intramuros, though, he set all of his heart and mind into it.

And this time around, it didn’t take too long for the prized rookie to make an immediate impact in the ongoing NCAA 95.

Averaging 8.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.1 steals through eight games, he has wasted no time in turning himself into a key cog in the Cardinals’ quest to take flight once more.

Hernandez has delivered the goods the most in the three-game winning streak they are currently in where he has norms of 15 points, 1.3 triples, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.6 assists.

For the remarkable rookie season he has been turning in thus far, his mentor is nothing but proud. "Alam na natin na kahit isang taong lang 'to sa amin sa Jrs., nakita ko na agad yung leadership. Matapang, Finals MVP, hindi biro yung nagawa niya nun," Mapua head coach Randy Alcantara said.

And so, of course, the two-time NCAA Jrs. and one-time MBPL champion coach is only happy to have the 6-foot-3 sweet-shooting forward on his side.

This, after more than a few teams also expressed interest in Hernandez.

For the 20-year-old's part, though, there was one and only one way to go. "Familiarity ang gusto ko at alam ni Coach Randy kung paano ako gamitin. Yung teammates ko rin, kilala na namin ang isa't-isa," he said.

He then continued, "Kaya yun ang pinili ko - familiarity."

And now he has established, and is reinforcing, himself in Intramuros, his mentor has full faith he is there to stay - and is there to bring back Mapua to continued contention. "Nakikita ko na after (team captain) [Laurenz] Victoria, magiging mukha na ng Cardinals si Paolo Hernandez," coach Randy said.

Without a doubt, that is high praise for a rookie, however prized as he may be, but without a doubt as well, Hernandez does have what it takes to be a future King Cardinal.

For now, though, he wants nothing more than to help his alma mater get back on track. As he put it, "Masaya ako sa tiwala ni coach, pero 'di ko muna iniisip yun. This season muna, tiyaga-tiyaga lang, step-by-step lang."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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