Joem Sabandal shining bright as lighthouse for surprise contender Adamson

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Feb 07, 2018 07:05 PM
Joem Sabandal shining bright as lighthouse for Adamson
Joem Sabandal is the primary reason why Adamson is reloading instead of rebuilding

Joem Sabandal could have stood alongside EJ Agbong, Jayson Celis, and John Galinato as a key cog in Chiang Kai Shek College’s championship in the recently-concluded Metro Manila Basketball League.

Recruited by assistant Tom Chua, the do-it-all guard could have continued to go with his recruiter and head coach Goldwin Monteverde even after they departed Adamson High School.

If not that, Sabandal could have stood alongside Joel Cagulangan and Inand Fornilos as they celebrated the historic title of College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills.

In fact, the 17-year-old had already practiced with the Junior Blazers for one week during the offseason a year ago.

“Dapat po talaga, kukunin nila ako sa Chiang Kai o sa Greenhills. Nag-one week na nga po ako sa Greenhills,” he shared. “Pero kinausap ako ulit ng Adamson na bumalik. Nag-practice ako sa Adamson tapos masaya naman kaya I chose to stay na lang.”

And so, when Monteverde’s exit from San Marcelino brought about a tsunami of changes, Sabandal, along with Doria brothers Andrei and Adam, stayed behind.

Now, he is leading the Baby Falcons’ unlikely playoff push.

The Cagayan de Oro native said that it was new head coach Mike Fermin’s full faith that made up his mind. ”Sabi ni coach Mike, ‘Ako bahala sayo. Iaangat natin agad ang Adamson,’” he recalled.

Nearing the end of eliminations, they have done just that and are alive and kicking for a playoff berth in the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

That is exactly why it’s hard to argue against Sabandal’s decision to stay behind in Adamson.

Along with the surprising contention, he has had a breakout season for himself with averages of 15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.6 steals in 26.1 minutes of action.

This, following per game counts of 2.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, and one assist in 7.9 minutes of action as a rookie a year ago.

As it turns out, the departure of his former mentors and teammates only opened up opportunities for him. “Siguro nga po, bigay po talaga ni Lord. Sadya po talagang ganito ang mangyayari,” he said.

He then continued, “Basta yung nangyari po, ginagawa ko lang na motivation. Pinu-prove ko lang na kaya kong gawin yung mga pinagkakatiwala nina coach Mike.”

Indeed, the 5-foot-11 has done nothing but take full advantage in showing the way for his team. “Confident kami na kaya naming makapasok. Basta every day, ako at lahat kami, gagawin ang lahat,” he said.

Joem Sabandal could have experienced championships with Chiang Kai Shek or CSB-LSGH.

And yet, he’s with an Adamson side not even certain to make the next round.

He won’t have it another way. “Wala na yun, tapos na yun e. Tutulungan ko na lang tong Adamson na mag-champion,” he expressed.


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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