The night before his debut, DLSU’s Melecio watched a lot of Mark Cruz

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 07, 2016 09:05 PM
Before his debut, DLSU’s Melecio watched a lot of Mark Cruz
NEXT IN LINE. Aljun Melecio impressed in his UAAP Seniors debut.

De La Salle University coach Aldin Ayo has always spoke glowingly about Aljun Melecio.

He said Melecio was his most-wanted recruit. He said Melecio was the next Mark Cruz.

Apparently, those were far more than just press releases. If the Green Archers’ first game in the UAAP 79 Men’s Basketball Tournament – also both their league debuts – is any indication, Ayo sees Melecio as a key cog for him at present and in the future.

The one-time NCAA champion coach believes in his prized rookie so much so that the night before their most-anticipated matchup against Far Eastern University on Wednesday, the former called the latter for a private huddle. As Melecio shared with reporters, “Si coach talaga nagbigay sa akin ng kumpyansa lalo na last night, tinawag niya ako sa kitchen.”

He then continued, “Tapos nanood kami ng video ni Mark Cruz sa Letran. Sabi niya, ‘Eto, tignan mo si Mark kung paano gumalaw.’”

Come gametime, the rookie did nothing but repay his coach’s trust and scored 10 points, eight coming during one stretch in the second quarter, to go along with two steals.

Melecio logged 19 minutes on the floor, above the average for a first-time player, and was part of the lineup that closed out the contest for DLSU. “Nung na-foul out si Julian, tinignan ako ni coach tapos sabi, ‘Ano? Kaya mo,’” he said.

He then continued, “Sabi ko, ‘Kaya, coach!’ Kaya yun, pinasok niya ako.”

For his part, Ayo was nothing but glad from what he saw from the former MVP in the UAAP Juniors. There is one thing he wants him to work on, however, and said, “He just has to be consistent. Sa 10 points niya, two points lang sa second half so wag siya makukuntento.”

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