Arvin Tolentino is earning Coach Racela's trust at FEU

MANILA, Philippines - Early into the second quarter of their matchup, the UE Red Warriors thought they had a chance against the FEU Tamaraws.

After a lackluster 11-28 first quarter, UE breathed life into their battle and cut the lead down to 8, 36-28. That is, until the Tamaraws let loose their new recruit, Arvin Tolentino.

Due to a hyperextended knee he suffered against La Salle last Sunday, Tolentino was limited to a mere 6 minutes of action. However, 6 minutes were all he needed. In 3 straight possessions, FEU sank 3 threes – a four-point play from Ron Ramirez followed by back-to-back treys from Tolentino. UE’s Clark Derige, who had 12 himself in the 2nd (22 for the game), tried to stop the bleeding only to be stopped back by another Tolentino three. 

Then he was gone for the game, never to return until FEU secured the victory, 90-83 – the first under Coach Olsen Racela. Six minutes, 11 points, 3/4 from three.

Having to get his work done in limited time is nothing new to Tolentino.

As a member of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Tolentino was used sparingly in his second year after netting the Rookie of the Year award in Season 77 due to academic issues. Now, he’s looking to start over in Morayta. Slowly but surely, he’s gaining the trust of his new coach.

After the UE game, Coach Racela revealed that it’s only a matter of time before Tolentino is given a bigger slice of the FEU experience.

“Si Arvin, meron din siyang sariling strength, and it’s on the offensive end,” said the rookie coach. “You saw what he can do dun sa maliit na minutong binigay ko, 11 points agad.” ("Arvin also has his own strength, and it's on the offensive end. You saw what he can do with the few minutes I gave, 11 points already.") 

“He’ll play a major role once he gets healthy,” he added. “Ngayon titignan namin game-to-game.” ("Now, we'll see game-to-game.") 

While Tolentino admitted that such a responsibility will be difficult to take, he said he’s ready for anything his coaches throw at him. “Mapa-offense, mapa-defense, basta kung ano mang ipagawa ni coach,” he said. ("Whether on offense or defense, whatever coach asks me to do.")

“Double effort na lang din, kasi yung trust na binibigay sa’kin ni coach, kailangan ko ring masuklian.” ("I'll just give double the effort, because with the trust coach is giving me, I also must give back.") 

Arvin Tolentino is no stranger to hardships in the UAAP. Getting in, trying to stay, being cut, returning for a new team – he’s seen it all. He may have been bumped off the path for a while, but he never lost the way. –