EYES ON YOU, KID: UAAP 82 Jrs. players to watch

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 28, 2019 05:08 PM
EYES ON YOU, KID: UAAP 82 Jrs. players to watch
(Photos courtesy of UAAP)

The first round of the UAAP 82 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with.

And we can’t wait for the second round to get started just so we could get even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players:

CARL TAMAYO and KEVIN QUIAMBAO – Nazareth School of National University

TAMAYO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.7 points, 52.3 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists

QUIAMBAO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.7 points, 51.4 percent shooting, 10.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.7 assists

7-foot-2, 17-year-old Kai Sotto was, hands down, the top individual talent last year in UAAP Jrs. – but even he was no match for National U’s twin towers who stood as the pillars in their dominant championship.

A year later, Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao have only been better all while the Bullpups have breezed to a clean sweep of Round 1.

The 6-foot-7 Tamayo is yet to explode, but is still posting per game counts that any team would want their big man to have.

The 6-foot-8 Quiambao, on the other hand, has had for himself a couple of powerful performances and finds himself in the league’s top five in rebounds and blocks.

Either of them would have no problem whatsoever making this list on their own, but together, National U’s twin towers, well, tower over all the competition.

LEBRON LOPEZ and JOSH LAZARO – Ateneo de Manila University

LOPEZ’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.1 steals

LAZARO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 13.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 steals

What National U has in imposing big men, Ateneo has in versatile forwards.

Lebron Lopez and Josh Lazaro are long-limbed, athletic, and agile and it is when they share the floor together that the Blue Eaglets do the most damage.

Lopez, standing at 6-foot-5, has the higher ceiling between the two and is now already in the league’s top five in blocks and rebounds, but he remains in the process of putting it all together after having a tough time seeing the court when he was still in La Salle Green Hills.

The 6-foot-4 Lazaro, meanwhile, has always been solid even when he was reppin’ San Beda and has only translated that, as well as a more well-rounded game, now in blue and white.

Katipunan may have lost Sotto, but its future remains secure with these talented transferees who have done nothing but make an immediate impact.

GERRY ABADIANO – Nazareth School of National University

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.5 steals

Other guards have the highlights and the numbers, but in terms of being a court general, Gerry Abadiano is still the standard.

National U has the most loaded team in all of high school, but its engine remains in good condition with much thanks to the leadership of Abadiano.

The Bullpups’ boat just could not be rocked with the 5-foot-11 guard’s hands at the wheel as everybody from Carl Tamayo to Echo Laure and from Terrence Fortea to Steve Nash Enriquez heeds the call of their captain.

And when the blue and gold needs a shot all of a sudden? All of us could count on Abadiano to hit his patented midrange jumper. Now that’s a leader.

FORTHSKY PADRIGAO – Ateneo de Manila University

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 19.4 points, 19 total threes, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 steals, 3.9 assists

No doubt about it, Ateneo is now Forthsky Padrigao’s show to run for the foreseeable future.

With his running mate in Sotto having taken his talents to the US, Padrigao has been thrust into the spotlight by his lonesome – and he has done nothing but shine.

The playmaking is still there as the 5-foot-11 guard is tops in the league in assists, but he has now also unleashed his scoring skills to the tune of 19.4 points per game – second-best among all players.

The shooting percentages have a long ways to go, but it’s just a matter of time before Padrigao truly makes himself into Katipunan’s next great point guard.

PENNY ESTACIO – Far Eastern University-Diliman

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.1 points, 16 total threes, 6.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.7 steals

There’s a reason FEU-Diliman went all-out in securing the services of Penny Estacio – and he has wasted no time repaying their full faith.

A year after showing promise at the point of the attack for San Beda, Estacio has now blossomed into a primetime playmaker for the Baby Tamaraws.

The 5-foot-11 guard could make plays for his teammates, of course, but as of right now, his capabilities and confidence are all about making plays for himself all the way to the top five in scoring.

And make no mistake, Estacio is no points guard – he also uses his long limbs to good use by harassing opposing guards into turnovers he quickly converts into scoring opportunities for the green and gold.

TERRENCE FORTEA – Nazareth School of National University

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.6 points, 19 total threes, 2.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists

To be honest, Terrence Fortea has not had a good season – for his high standards, at the very least.

The shooting percentages have not been kind to Fortea thus far as he is yet to hit the mark, especially from beyond the arc.

Still, the 5-foot-10 scoring guard remains a frightening sight for opponents with the ball in his hands and with his uber-quick release always threatening.

Terrence gonna Terrence and shooters gonna shoot – and all of the league is not at all looking forward to the game where the shots finally fall and fall and fall for Fortea.

JOHN EROLON – Adamson High School

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.6 points, 25 total threes, 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals

There’s a new marksman in town – and he is wearing the colors of Adamson.

John Erolon, the Baby Falcons’ prized recruit from Dumaguete’s St. Louis of Don Bosco, has only proven that his shooting touch in the 2019 National Basketball Training Centre was no mirage as he has scorched the UAAP Jrs. nets for the second-most total threes after the first round.

The other facets of his game have much room for improvement, of course, but there is no doubt that the rookie already has an elite skill on lock.

KEAN BACLAAN – De La Salle Zobel

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals

DLSZ has not had its day under the sun since the days of Aljun Melecio, but with the entry of talented transferee Kean Baclaan, it hoped its time would come again.

Thus far, Baclaan has held up his end of the bargain with his super scoring already making its way to the UAAP Jrs. all while doing a little bit of everything else.

Now, all that’s left for the 5-foot-8 playmaker to do is to energize the rest of his teammates so that the Jr. Archers could finally put an end to their three-year playoff drought.

SEAN TORCULAS – University of the Philippines Integrated School

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 10.6 points, 17.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 2.4 blocks

Yes, UPIS remains winless. Yes, head coach Paolo Mendoza’s eight-man rotation plays somewhere between 15 to 34 minutes per game. Yes, statistics never tell the true story.

Still, being first in rebounds, first in blocks, second in assists, and third in steals in a league filled to the brim with talent is nothing to brush aside – especially if you are an undersized forward.

That’s exactly what Sean Torculas has done after Round 1, though, and it is, without a doubt, all because his motor never stops working. That’s exactly what a rebuilding team wants and needs from its building block.

JACOB CORTEZ – University of Sto. Tomas

ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals

UST has its own talented transferee who has, thus far, flown under the radar, in Jacob Cortez.

Nonetheless, the son of ex-pro Mike Cortez has begun to open eyes as he has the ability to score from all over the floor.

With “Cool Cat” genes in him, the 5-foot-9 has only made sure that the Tiger Cubs remain a threat in the post-Mark Nonoy era.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Jorick Bautista – Far Eastern University-Diliman

John Dalisay – De La Salle Zobel

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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