UAAP Finals: 'Too short, weak, slow' Anton Asistio graduates as a champion

Danine Cruz on Dec 06, 2018 08:14 AM
'Too short, weak, slow' Asistio graduates as a champion
"I learned about Anton is don't ever tell him there's something he can't do." - Tab Baldwin on Anton Asistio

Anton Asistio was never a star Ateneo Blue Eagle. In his four years playing for the Ateneo de Manila University, he was never the type to rack up big shots, which can send the whole blue-and-white crowd to celebration.

But in Asistio's last game as a Blue Eagle in UAAP Season 81, where they sealed back-to-back champion status against the University of the Philippines, he experienced what it was like to be given such immense attention.

Ateneo supporters in the Araneta Coliseum chanted "A-sis-tio! A-sis-tio!" in honor of the graduating point guard.

"Surreal. I was never the main guy pero nagkataon I'm the only one graduating so it was a wonderful experience. Parang sobrang naging emotional ako noon," he said.

He may be basking in the glory of graduating as a champion in Season 81, but the path leading up to this beautiful exit was not pretty for the 5-foot-8 point guard. Moments after the championship festivities, he reflected about his very far from perfect UAAP career.

"When I was first year and second year, I made it to the line-up and that was my dream ever since I was a kid. Pero it wasn't how I saw myself because I wasn't really playing," said one of Ateneo's homegrown talents who started playing as early as grade school.

Due to being small and not much of a great ball handler, Asistio was a benchwarmer in his first two years. It became worse when he was relegated to Team B the next year.

"And then my third year, I was sent down to Team B, but instead of seeing it as a downgrade, I looked at it as an opportunity, an opportunity to get better, kasi the fact that they sent me down means na may kulang pa ako as a player," he said.

Come his fourth chance to play, the arrival of a foreigner Tab Baldwin as their new head coach, who had zero prejudices about the players, signalled new beginnings for Asistio.

"Then lucky enough, in my fourth year a new head coach was appointed, si Coach Tab. And I knew it was another chance, so it was a clean slate for everyone. He's a foreigner, so he didn't really know anyone," he narrated.

Baldwin took a chance on him and he delivered.

"'He's too short, he's too weak, he's too slow, and he can't handle the ball.' And this is all true, and he knows it. And so at least I had to give him a fair shot and tell him those things. And so what did we end up with? We ended up with a guy who got in the weight room, changed his body, changed his mentality, continued to be a great shooter, became very dependable handling the ball, and also is one of our more dependable defensive players," shared the Ateneo mentor.

"So of course, he's sitting here today as a graduating senior with all the laurels that he deserves because he worked his tail off to get them," credited Baldwin.

Now, the short, weak, and slow point guard that hardly made a dent in Ateneo's past campaigns closed his UAAP career as a champion. From being a liability, he has turned himself into an asset defensively and most especially, offensively.

In his last season, he posted averages of 7.6 points, 1.8 three pointers a game on a 43-percent shooting clip beyond the arc. This makes him the third best scorer of Ateneo this season.

Interestingly, his last championship was won against his former coach who relegated him to the Team B, Bo Perasol.

"Medyo nakakatawa lang na si Coach Bo pa nakalaban ko. Actually, thankful ako kay Coach Bo kasi kung hindi dahil sa kanya hindi ako magpepersevere. Naging motivation ko rin yun. I'm the kind of guy who when I'm going after something, I use everything that I can as motivation and I guess that is just one of them," he said. 

Looking forward, Asistio eyes a spot in the PBA D-League or the MPBL to continue his basketball career. On top of that, he plans to also finish his Masters Degree in Communication in Ateneo.

Five years ago, Asistio couldn’t even get his own minutes, then his own spot in the roster. But look at him now, he was given a grand exit of a two-time UAAP champion.

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