MANILA, Philippines – Several new faces continue to impress in UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball.
From one-and-done veterans like Rey Suerte and Val Chauca to impactful transferees like Kobe Paras and Rhenz Abando, the league certainly does not have a shortage of new talents making a name for themselves.
Not to be outdone by the older guys, however, this season’s rookie batch also has some intriguing prospects who are quickly growing as integral building blocks of their respective schools.
Although this year does not yet feature “super” rookies like Dave Ildefonso, CJ Cansino and Angelo Kouame from the previous season, there are still a handful of young guns out there who deserve a share of the spotlight.
The UST Growling Tigers couldn’t have recruited a better guard to – quite literally – run Aldin Ayo’s system other than Mark Nonoy.
After a one-and-done UAAP juniors season with the Tiger Cubs where he once netted a triple-double, Nonoy is now the UST seniors’ third-leading scorer with a 9.7 points per game average, more than a point above his backcourt mentor Renzo Subido.
Unfortunately, there are no available stats for average speed on the court, but Nonoy is certainly near the top of the leaderboard if there ever was one given how he regularly puts his defenders in the rearview mirror on the fastbreak.
However, while he has made the most of his 20:41 minutes per game average on the court, Nonoy certainly has a lot of work left to do in terms of efficiency. Over 6 games, the pride of Negros Occidental is only shooting 23% from the field and 22% from three.
Not to be outdone by his teammate, UST’s Sherwin Concepcion is steadily chugging along as the team’s fifth-best scorer with norms of 8.2 points per game. He recently showcased his shooting touch after netting 12 points on 4 consecutive shots from downtown in the Tigers’ 82-74 win over the FEU Tamaraws.
While his long-range sniping is certainly promising at 29% so far off a 10-of-35 clip, his composure from the free throw line is also something worth watching out for. In 6 games, Concepcion is averaging 100% on 11 makes. So far, only Nonoy and Beninese big man Soulemane Chabi Yo have made more freebies on the team.
If this stroke from the line keeps up along with his stroke from deep, then UST may have found a late-game closer for the future.
UE Red Warriors rookie Harvey Pagsanjan is a name that has flown under the radar so far this season. Playing in the shadow of league scoring leaders Suerte and Alex Diakhite, the former Hope Christian High School star is actually the UE’s third-best scorer with an average of 7.8 points per game in just 16:59 minutes a night.
What’s more impressive, however, is Pagsanjan’s efficiency currently standing at a 40% clip (10-of-25) to lead all rookies who have made at least two field goals.
A big hole will be left once Suerte moves on from the collegiate ranks. If Pagsanjan’s decision-making holds up along with his natural scoring talent, then a breakout season may just be around the corner.
Batang Gilas stalwart Xyrus Torres has made a name for himself in high school as a streaky shooter from deep, which is why it is no surprise that he has been the practically the same in his debut season at the college level for FEU.
Averaging 7.4 points in 5 games so far, Torres is tied with big men Pat Tchuente and Barkley Ebona as the team’s third-best scorer.
Unlike those two post players, however, Torres has solidified his role as a sparkplug sniper off the bench, amassing an 11-of-33 clip from deep on 33% shooting. This accounts for a staggering 94% of his total attempts (33-of-35) from the field and judging from his totals from FIBA tournaments, this shot selection is not bound to change anytime soon.
With FEU averaging a dead-last 64.4 points per game and in dire need of more scoring, Torres’ triples may just be the thing they need to push them over the hump.
Although the leaders of this rookie batch still have glaring flaws in their respective games, there is no denying that the talent and heart of each player is already in the right place. With the right guidance and exposure, the sky is the limit, as they always say. – Rappler.com