Mendoza says career-high 34 points no response to Melecio’s 42

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 17, 2015 06:27 PM
Mendoza says career-high 34 no response to Melecio’s 42
NO BIG DEAL. Jolo Mendoza said his career day wasn't caused by being at the opposite end of archrival Aljun Melecio's 42-point outburst.

Under the microscope as he leads Ateneo de Manila High School’s quest to keep their crown in the UAAP 78 Juniors Basketball Tournament, Jolo Mendoza had his thunder stolen from him by seemingly the biggest threat to him and his team.

On the back of a 42-point explosion from Aljun Melecio, De La Salle Zobel walloped the Blue Eaglets by double-digits and made sure that Katipunan wasn’t sweeping the elimination round once again. In the loss, Mendoza still ended up with 16 points, but misfired on 10 of his 16 attempts while also turning the ball over four times.

Exhibiting leadership without anyone watching, however, coach Joe Silva shared that right after the season-opening defeat, his main man texted him two words: Bounce back.

Further exhibiting leadership, Mendoza made good on his words and erupted for 34 points in stout 60 percent shooting while only needing 22 minutes to collect his career-best.

In fact, last season’s Finals MVP was so on-point that Silva said they got outrebounded, 35-45, because of him. “We’re a big team. The problem was Jolo wasn’t missing,” he said.

Nonetheless, Mendoza shot down notions that he was going for some sort of response to Melecio’s rousing start to the season. “I didn’t know I scored 34 until they showed me the stats in the dugout. It was unexpected,” he said.

He also added, “That’s not the goal. The goal is to keep winning games.”

That kind of talk is even more proof that the new King Eaglet is well growing into his role as a leader – following in a long line of great ones like Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena and then Mike and Matt Nieto. Asked how he was doing with more responsibilities, he said, “It’s a big space to fill kasi magagaling silang leader. I’m still adjusting kasi nasanay ako na all my career, kasama ko sila.”

He then continued, “But we’re going to be okay. Step by step lang.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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