La Salle beefs up with Estacio, Abadam

The De La Salle Green Archers added more talent to their impressive recruitment pool after securing the commitments of athletic standouts Penny Estacio and Jared Abadam.

Green Archers head coach Derrick Pumaren confirmed the development to Rappler, Monday, May 24.

Estacio, a six-foot guard, played high school basketball for Far Eastern University and last helped the Baby Tamaraws to a finals appearance in UAAP Season 82. Abadam, 17, is a 6-foot-4 wing player based in New South Wales and is finishing his Grade 12 education.

"He's the future point guard for La Salle," Pumaren said of Estacio's potential. "I know he runs a team well. I know he can score, but the priority will be running the team. He will set the tone. He pressures well defensively and that's what we thrive on."

The champion coach clarified that Estacio will be a backup to his veteran teammates, such as transferees Evan Nelle and Mark Nonoy and holdover Jordan Bartlett, but his time to run the team will eventually come. 

Estacio, who also played for San Beda and Lourdes School of Mandaluyong, averaged 15 points a game in his final high school campaign.

"I chose DLSU because they were very promising," Estacio told Rappler. "A lot of schools were talking to me but La Salle was the best option for me in academics and also in basketball."

Estacio is aware competition for minutes will be tough to come by at La Salle, although he is up for the challenge.

"[C]ompetition will always be there. All schools are full of talent. I just feel that this is the school which will take care of me the most," Estacio added in a mix of Filipino and English.

Abadam, who suits up for Westfield Sports High School in New South Wales, is the son of Filipino couple Rupert and Jennifer. He's been to the Philippines three times to visit relatives, knows how to speak a bit of Tagalog, and looks up to UP Fighting Maroon Ricci Rivero.

"He just introduced me to what I'm going to be expecting over there," Abadam shared about his conversation with Pumaren. "Obviously since I'm young, I'm not going to be playing straight away, I'll have to develop first and they'll develop me."

Abadam believes his athleticism will be the trait that transitions fastest as he gets acclimated with the Philippine style of play.

"I'm pretty fast for my height and my weight. I'm pretty agile, too. Honestly, I feel like my defense and my driving to the basket will ultimately translate," Abadam said.

To prepare for Pumaren's defensive-oriented schemes, Abadam says he's been watching clips of the coach's defense on YouTube. He's also been playing in a Filipino competition in his home of Blacktown, which gives him a taste of the physicality.

"They're pretty rough, they like to elbow, they like to do dirty moves. I'm obviously not one to get punked, so if you do that to me, I'm going to do it back to you," Abadam said.

When asked what his ultimate goal is, Abadam made it clear: to be known as a "good Christian baller."

"I grew up in a Christian household. I take my faith in Jesus very seriously. He is the rock of my life. He's what keeps me going through everything,” Abadam said.

"Obviously, I'll have some hard times in the Philippines and in La Salle but knowing that Jesus has always got my back, all good."

La Salle's other recruitment hauls from the extended UAAP offseason include Kevin Quiambao, Raven Cortez, Aaron Buensalida, Isaiah Hontiveros, Fil-Am Deschon Winston, and brothers Michael and Ben Philips.

Pumaren is unbothered by the criticism that his program is amassing too many recruits for the available final roster slots the Green Archers will have.

"They don't know what our plans are," Pumaren said.

"I know we have a lot of players, but the program we're setting up is once there's a player that will graduate or leave, there will be players replacing them right away."

Pumaren and his staff hope to get the Green Archers to 70% effectivity once they can resume training, and complete the remaining 30% once face-to-face classes resume. – Rappler.com