MANILA, Philippines – The National University Bulldogs secured the commitment from coveted high school standout JV Gallego of Chiang Kai Shek College head coach Eric Altamirano confirmed to Rappler on Tuesday, April 7.
Gallego, a 16-year-old 5-foot-10 shooting guard, will make his UAAP debut in September when the Bulldogs begin their bid for a second consecutive men’s basketball championship.
“Hopefully we’ll have a lot of time to prepare,” said Altamirano about how quick Gallego will get accustomed to his new teammates. “The UAAP starts in September, so that will give him more time to understand what we do.”
With huge contributors from their line-up last year in Glenn Khobuntin and Troy Rosario now graduated, NU will need as much firepower as they can get for a better shot at another championship.
Gallego will join a loaded backcourt rotation for National U that includes Gelo Alolino, Rev Diputado, Rodolfo Alejandro, and Pao Javelona.
Altamirano said that his incoming rookie will continue playing his natural two-guard position with the Bulldogs, but when he will be inserted into the starting unit “depends on how fast he can learn.”
“With his game, I think he will be able to help us with his ability to create for himself and his teammates,” Altamirano said. “He understands the game. Mataas ang bball IQ niya (His basketball IQ is high).”
Though he didn’t play high school basketball in the Jr NCAA or Jr UAAP tournaments, many pundits are aware of Gallego’s talents.
During the 2013 NBTC (National Basketball Training Center) finals, Gallego recorded 32 points - 16 in the final quarter - to lead Chiang Kai Shek to the title over Hubert Cani’s NU Bullpups and was named the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player.
Gallego was also named a co-MVP of the 2015 SLAM Rising Stars Challenge, as he scored 18 points to lead Team Punks past Team Hype, 103-95.
When Rappler talked to Gallego during the 2015 NBTC All-Star Game, he said he plans to improve on his shooting to prepare for college basketball.
“Kasi sa college, hindi ako kalakihan sa college so mahihirapan ako minsan mag drive, so kailangan ko i-improve yung shooting ko.”
(In college, I won’t be one of the tallest players, so it will be difficult for me to drive, so I need to improve my shooting.”
Gallego also says he hopes to model his game similar to reigning UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena’s.
“Idol ko si Kiefer, so gusto ko yung laro niya maging laro ko rin. Gusto ko yung mga pull-up jumper niya - yung mga one-dribble, two-dribble pull-up.”
(Kiefer’s my idol, so I want my game to be like his. I like his pull-up jumpers - his one-dribble, two-dribble pull-ups.) – Rappler.com