Eagles have a secret: They have a sneaky good rookie class

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 06, 2017 06:39 PM
Eagles have a secret: They have a sneaky good rookie class
KEPT UNDER WRAPS. Mike Nieto will now be flanked by talented first-year players BJ Andrade (#26), Troy Mallillin, Gian Mamuyac, and Tyler Tio (#19).

Ateneo de Manila University arguably has the most intact team heading into the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

And the very same squad that went all the way to the Finals a year ago will be back wiser, stronger, and better.

Of course, that didn’t stop the Blue Eagles from going out and improving their roster.

So, that most intact team that will feature wiser, stronger, and better players such as Isaac Go, Mike Nieto, and Thirdy Ravena will welcome four newcomers who are more than capable of making an immediate impact. “We will have four good players coming in,” coach Sandy Arespacochaga said of their additions.

Tyler Tio, one of the prized prospects in all of college last year, will now suit up for Ateneo and so will Troy Mallillin who was hailed as the best player in the NCAA Juniors a season ago. “We have Tyler Tio who we wanted to field in last year already so now he’s coming in. We already know he’s doing well,” Arespacochaga said.

He then continued, “We have Troy Mallillin and he joined the team a bit late so he’s still adjusting. But he has his athleticism and the way he works hard, he’ll be able to help us also.”

Also set to make their debuts for Team A are Team B standouts and former Blue Eaglets BJ Andrade and Gian Mamuyac. “We have Gian Mamuyac and he’s doing well. Dati payat-payat, pero ngayon bato-bato na and he’s managed to play himself into the rotation,” the mentor shared.

He then continued, “And we have BJ Andrade who provides a lot of intensity and spirit especially on the defensive end for us.”

That means that the Blue Eagles now have two new starting-caliber players as well as two new effective role players.

And yet, the new kids in Katipunan aren’t being talked about much.

The spotlight has shone brightest on Adamson University’s new players bannered by Tyrus Hill, Far Eastern University’s upstarts led by Jasper Parker, and University of the Philippines’ fresh faces fronted by Juan Gomez de Liano.

Even the rookies of University of Sto. Tomas, headlined by Cameroonian Steve Akomo, have generated more buzz.

However, that’s just how Ateneo wants it – that, for now, only they know how important their rookies will be. “Our rookies will be a big part of our team, especially Troy and Tyler. Tyler is a very smart player and I think he’ll do very well at the point guard,” veteran guard Aaron Black said.

He then continued, “Then Troy just gives his all whenever he’s out there. They’ll both help a lot this year.”


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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