Mike’s big-time change was a family affair for the Nietos

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 17, 2016 03:00 PM
Mike’s big-time change was a family affair for the Nietos
I'LL GET BY. Mike Nieto's got by with his shift to the wings with a little help from his family.

“Big Mike” Nieto, the unstoppable force of leadership and immovable object down low during his time as a Blue Eaglet, is no more.

Instead, playing at the wings for the Blue Eagles at a lean 185 lbs. is just Mike Nieto – “Medium Mike” as sportswriters fondly call him now.

After averaging only 1.6 points and 0.2 rebounds in his first year for Ateneo de Manila University, Nieto made it a point to completely familiarize himself with his new position as a forward. “Ayoko na maulit yung nangyari sa akin last year na kahit gaano ko kagustong tumulong, wala akong magawa kasi nasa bench lang. I promised myself na hindi na mauulit yun,” he said.

The former Juniors MVP proved to be a man of his word and lost 35 lbs. in the offseason and now looks pretty much like twin brother Matt who has always been a guard.

With that out of the way, Nieto then turned his attention to the skills he didn’t have to worry about all that much when he was still a big man. “Talagang nagpapayat ako tapos I asked help from my dad for my shooting and then kay Matt naman para sa dribbling,” he shared.

Jett Nieto, Mike and Matt’s father, was also a champion Eagle. And according to Mike, he was just the man for the job as he said, “I asked help from my dad kasi shooter yan dati.”

Matt, on the other hand, has long been serving a court general for Ateneo in all levels.

With the help of his father and brother, Mike now seems completely comfortable at the wing. Not only that, he is also contributing 8.3 points – in 40.4 percent shooting and with 13 triples – and 5.5 rebounds with only 1.4 turnovers in 21.2 minutes per game for the second-seed kids from Katipunan.

Not only has he regained his time on the court, the artist formerly known as “Big Mike” has also reclaimed his role as one of the leaders for young Ateneo. And it took a little reminder that his leadership was always one of strengths for him to do so.

“Nung natatalo kami nung first round, pinapagalitan na ako kasi kailangan ko raw ilabas yung leadership ko kagaya nung ginagawa ko nung Juniors,” Nieto shared. “So I think, dahil lahat naman kami rito bata, it’s time for me na rin to step up and become one of those leaders.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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