Lifted by teammates from injury, Lao helps lift UP to rare fifth win

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 07, 2016 07:09 PM
Lifted by teammates from injury, Lao helps lift UP to 5th W
GOT YOUR BACK, BRO. With his teammates already doing so, Kyles Lao said he just needs to believe in himself.

With their surprising success as of late, it’s easy to forget that the University of the Philippines is even yet to see or hear from a former Rookie of the Year wearing their colors.

Lucky for us, Kyles Lao just gave the refresher we needed last Sunday.

Scoring six points in only six minutes of action, the league’s top rookie in 2013 proved he can still contribute a year after an ACL injury to his left knee.

More than the on-court production, how Lao stepped up in place of a struggling Jett Manuel did wonders for the morale of his teammates. As coach Bo Perasol shared, “I think that many of those who were able to contribute were inspired by what Kyles did. He was able to get some crucial shots kahit hindi niya inaasahan na bubunutin ko siya.”

He then continued, “When I called his name, nabigla siya konti, but laging usapan namin, you have to be ready.”

And ready, the former Xavier School standout was. With University of Sto. Tomas zeroed in on Manuel and Paul Desiderio, he decisively drove into the lane for layups all throughout his six-minute stint in the third quarter.

In the end, Lao was part of a total of seven Fighting Maroons who contributed at least six points.

He didn’t see action in the final frame, but for him, this was only the first step in his desire to repay his coaches and teammates’ trust in him. “It’s really a difficult process going back from an ACL injury, but then, yung trust ng teammates, yung trust ng coaches na hindi pa rin nawawala yung Kyles Lao na kilala nila dati, yun lang ang kailangan.”

He then continued, “So more on self-confidence na lang kasi nandun na yung confidence ng ibang tao. It’s proving to myself and proving to people na kaya ko pa rin.”

The 21-year-old then went on to single out Desiderio as the teammate who has always been pushing him. “Si Paul, talagang pinu-push ako. Sinasabi niya lagi, ‘Go lang, look for your game,’” he narrated.

The then continued, “Malaking bagay yun for me na, coming from an injury, andun pa rin yung support nila.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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