Building the ideal UAAP baller for modern times

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on May 22, 2020 04:11 PM
Building the ideal UAAP baller for modern times
(Photo by Arvin Lim)

There is no perfect player.

Each and every one who sees action in the UAAP Men's Basketball Tournament is an unfinished product who needs to realize there remain many, many holes in his game.

Improvement and rounding out one's game is a constant for all these talented youngsters.

But if we were given a chance to build the ideal baller for modern times, how would he turn out?

Well, this is our take on all the physical attributes and skills that he should have:

L-JAY GONZALES's vision

Far Eastern University's floor leader is a pass-first point guard.

L-Jay Gonzales has been a playmaker through and through and has the skill to set up his teammates for the right play.

In UAAP 82, he was the league-leader in assists with 4.3 per game and was the engine that drove the young Tamaraws to a pleasant surprise of a playoff berth.

CJ CANSINO's nose for the ball

CJ Cansino seems to have a knack for being at the right place, at the right time.

Whether it be a defensive or offensive rebound, University of Sto. Tomas' do-it-all guard has long had positioning down pat.

Because of that, he has, time and again, gotten boards away from bigger opponents as evidenced by his 5.2 rebounds a game - with 1.7 coming from the offensive glass.

MIKE NIETO'S voice

Born leader is the forever descriptor for Mike Nieto.

A co-captain in his third year and skipper in his last two seasons in Ateneo de Manila University, "Big Mike" knows how to take charge all over the court - be it inside huddles or in-game.

While he would not be the first to take charge in terms of scoring, it is him who is, without a doubt, the first to make sure the Blue Eagles are in position to make something happen.

REY SUERTE's veteran smarts

Showcasing his skills for University of the Visayas in CESAFI before moving to Manila, Rey Suerte has seen it all.

And that experience proved key as he led University of the East to a respectable showing despite a 4-10 standing.

At the end of it all, Suerte's most memorable moment in his one-and-done year is a game-winning dagger straight through the heart of De La Salle University - a play he was able to make thanks to cool, calm, and collected moves that had him inbounding the ball, getting it back, and then firing a cold-blooded triple over the outstretched arms of 6-foot-2 Kurt Lojera.

SOULEMANE CHABI YO's size

The UAAP 81 Season MVP has the build to be able to take a beating - and he has all of it in a compact 6-foot-6 frame that could viably be put in all five positions.

We could go with Ange Kouame's blend of height and length, of course, but that would not necessarily be the perfect fit for the ideal player for the modern times we're building.

Position-less basketball is all the rave nowadays and Soulemane Chabi Yo's size is the perfect fit for just that.

RHENZ ABANDO's length

Limbs for days has been Rhenz Abando's calling card and thanks to those, he now has quite the trademark after just his first year - chasedown blocks.

With his long legs never letting him get too far left behind and his long arms granting him greater reach than normal, UST's two-way force is as devastating a rim protector with a 1.3-block average as he is a determined defender.

Then at the other end, those same long limbs allow him to launch his long-range missiles from a high point that not many opponents could even contest.

ALJUN MELECIO's hands

Jerrick Ahanmisi of Adamson University remains the best shooter in the league, but he is more of a catch-and-shoot player compared to De La Salle University's scoring guard who has both the ballhandling and the range to get any shot he wants from anywhere he wants.

Aljun Melecio has long been compared to Stephen Curry and that's with good reason as he is a threat from the moment he steps over to their side of the court - as anybody could see in his conversion clip of 32.5 percent from behind the arc.

And even when he ventures into the paint, he has the confidence and capability for fine finishes at the rim.

KOBE PARAS's legs

We could go with Thirdy Ravena from Ateneo here, but the University of the Philippines' shining star just seems to have a bit more explosion in his hops.

Of course, Kobe Paras was once known as just a high-flyer and has now rounded out his game.

Still, high-flyer, he remains, for sure.

MARK NONOY's feet

Speed kills and in UST's run-and-gun system, the turbo is always on for their lead guard.

In all of the league, perhaps only FEU's Gonzales could come close to Mark Nonoy.

And not only is he deadly on the open court, he also has an explosive first step that could leave an opponent in the dust even in the face of a set defense.

Taking all of these together, doesn't it look like.. Thirdy Ravena comes close?

No? Yes? Well, we would never know for sure.

What we do know is we would love to hear your take on this: what is your ideal baller for modern times?

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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