Once a Baby Tam, Lee now growing up in UST

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jan 03, 2016 08:35 AM
Once a Baby Tam, Lee now growing up in UST
NO REGRETS. Marvin Lee was at the losing end as former teammates Wendell Comboy and Brandrey Bienes celebrated FEU's championship.

A year ago, Marvin Lee was clad in green and gold.

When the 78th Season of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament wrapped up last November, however, gold was all he had and what he was missing both at the same time.

Lee, the steadying force behind Far Eastern University-Diliman in the Juniors division a year ago, became a witness to how his former alma mater took away the season championship from his new school: University of Sto. Tomas.

Still, the first-year Growling Tiger said he had no regrets trading away green and gold for gold and black. “’Di ako nagsisisi sa nangyari. Thankful ako sa nangyari sobra,” he told ABS-CBN Sports with confidence.

While an almost title is always painful, the Antipolo native can take solace in the fact that he was one of the few newbies to shine in the tournament. He ended just less than a point shy of being Rookie of the Year in a class that included highly-touted recruits like Ateneo de Manila University’s Matt Nieto, Adamson University’s Jaydee Tungcab, and De La Salle University’s Andrei Caracut who won the award.

The point guard normed 6.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in his first year and proved his fearlessness in taking – and making – big shots in the Finals. With Kevin Ferrer and Ed Daquioag’s graduation, he now also serves as a beacon of hope for Espana’s future.

As it turns out, the recently-concluded season was a homecoming of sorts for the first-year Growling Tiger. “Dapat nung first year high school ko, UST (Tiger Cubs) na talaga ako,” he recalled.

Circumstances prevented Lee’s wish from coming true, however, and he found himself in green pastures as a Baby Tamaraw. While he did good in Diliman and would have also loved keeping his horns after graduation, the enviable depth of FEU’s Seniors team became a personal problem for him.

“Sabi nila (FEU), Team B muna ako ng two years. Naisip ko, sayang yung two years so naisip kong bumalik ng UST,” he said. Right after the Juniors season ended a year ago, Lee narrated he himself reached out to UST about the possibility of moving to Espana.

The Growling Tigers promised nothing and had the 19-year-old try out for the team. He was nothing but impressive as coach Bong Dela Cruz said, “Matapang, masipag, everyday nag-improve kaya namin kinuha.”

He also added, “Kilala na namin siya nung high school pa lang, pero ‘di namin talaga akalain na sa amin pupunta.”

Dela Cruz and the rest of the squad’s faith motivated and continues to motivate Lee to prove them right. “Sobrang masaya kasi ang laki ng tiwala nila sakin. Kaya tine-take ko yung opportunity at ‘di ko sasayangin,” he said.

He then continued, “Nung una, hindi ko ine-expect na ganito mangyayari sa akin kasi rookie ako. Sobrang nakakatuwa na ang laki ng tiwala nila sa akin.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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