Former NCAA Jrs MVP runner-up Abu Hijleh joins UST
MANILA, Philippines – The UST Growling Tigers’ impressive off-season haul continued this week with the commitment of San Beda high school product Samuel Abu Hijleh.
The news was confirmed to Rappler by Abu Hijleh himself on Tuesday, March 21.
The arrival of the former NCAA juniors MVP runner-up is the latest for a Growling Tigers program which opened a new era by attaining the services of champion head coach Aldin Ayo.
Reigning UAAP juniors MVP Cj Cansino has also already committed to UST, along with notable high school standouts Mike Enriquez (Mapua), Joshua Marcos (La Salle Green Hills), plus both Toby Agustin and Kobe Caballero (JRU).
“I love the atmosphere sa UST. Nag-practice lang ako for one month and feel at home na agad ako. Madali makisama sa mga players and coaches and I think magiging fit ako sa system ni Coach Aldin,” said Abu Hijleh, who averaged 13.1 points and 10.4 rebounds for the Red Cubs in 2016 - the same year he came in second to LSGH’s Troy Mallillin for the MVP award.
(I love the atmosphere at UST. I practiced for one month and I already feel at home. It’s easy to get along with the players and coaches and I think I’ll fit in Coach Aldin’s system.)
The Fil-Jordanian declined to mention the other collegiate teams recruiting him and explained it was what Coach Ayo has planned which drew him to Sto. Tomas.
“Nung kinausap niya ako, sinabihan niya na may program na sila sa akin and plan na. So unlike sa iba, alam kong gaganda and magiging maayos yung career ko kasi pina feel din nila sa akin na special ako.”
(When he talked to me, he told me that they have a program and plan for me. So unlike with the others, I know my career will flourish because they made me feel special.)
Abu Hijleh also shared that he’s excited to play alongside returning Growling Tigers veteran Renzo Subido, who took the last UAAP season off to improve his game at the PBA D-League. Both of them are represented by the same agency, HypeSportsPH.
“There was a time na ako dumedepensa sa kanya and nagulat ako kasi na blow by ako nang ganon ganon. So sabi ko sobrang bilis niya ang sabi niya sa akin, ‘Loko ka, and tigas nang katawan mo.’ And we both laughed. If given the chance na maging teammate siya, it would be an honor to me kasi one of the idols na ‘yan eh. He plays well in the D-League and made a name sa UST na din.”
(There was a time I was defending him and I was surprised because he easily blew by me. So I told him he’s really quick and he said to me, “You’re kidding, your body is really hard.” And we both laughed. If given the chance to be his teammate, it would be an honor to me because he’s one of my idols. He plays well in the D-League and has made a name at UST as well.)
Unfortunately for UST fans, they will have to wait until at least next year to see Abu Hijleh debut for the Growling Tigers. The big man recently suffered a torn ACL and meniscus injuries in his right knee during practice with the team. The fastest time for recovery, according to him, is 8 months.
“Nag in-and-out fate ako and naiwan knee ko so nag twist talaga.”
(I did an in-and-out fake move and my knee was left behind so it twisted badly.)
Despite the setback, the young prospect is remaining positive as he begins a long rehabilitation process.
“Support lang muna ako all the way. Pero when my time comes, I’m just going to give my best and pakita na kahit may injury ako, makakatulong parin ako sa team. And mas gagaling ako.”
(I’ll be supporting them all the way. When my time comes, I’m just going to give my best and show that even if I have an injury, I’ll be able to help the team. And I’ll improve.)
Playing the power forward and center positions in high school, Abu Hijleh said he will revamp his game to play the wing positions in college. He’ll particularly be focusing on bettering his dribbling and speed.
But before he moves on to the next phase of his career, Abu Hijleh has praise for San Beda which helped him get to this level.
“Wala ako sa kinalagayan ko ngayon kung hindi dahil sa inyo. Thank you sa lahat nang nag suporta sa akin. It has been 6 long years. May ups and downs na nangyari pero nandyan parin kayo para suportahan ang Red Cubs. Once a Bedan, always a Bedan.”
(I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for you. Thank you to all of those who supported me. It has been 6 long years. There were ups and downs but you guys were still there to support the Red Cubs. Once a Bedan, always a Bedan.) – Rappler.com