Remember Adamson? Your very first game in the UAAP, you put up 1 point, 11 rebounds. You were up against a veteran Papi Sarr and the bigs of Adamson, and your youth and inexperience showed. There were flashes of brilliance, but a far cry from that dominant center fans from other schools branded as a “walking cheat code”.
It would have been easy to give up on you as early as then. Some even went as far as to brand you as the “next Chibueze Ikeh”, and not for the sake of complimenting you. It was a rough start to your UAAP career, but as your idol always preaches, Trust the Process.
Eventually, we learned, you weren’t too bad as a player. You averaged a double-double while averaging more blocks ON YOUR OWN than some teams in the UAAP. You also put up a historic 33 point, 27 rebound game, stamping your dominance in the league. You were also in serious contention to win MVP, and if not for a silly rule, you’d be a shoo-in as a member of the Mythical Five.
Suddenly, the 1st of December came about. You were playing in front of almost 22,000 people, two-thirds of which wear their heart on their sleeve and so hungry after being denied a chance at the top for 32 years. This was different for you. I could tell that you were a bundle of nerves as soon as you stepped out on that court. I understand. It’s a whole different experience from the Jones Cup and every UAAP game you’ve played up until Game 1.
Not only were you facing a raucous UP crowd, but matched up against you was the MVP of the league, a player who’s proven himself in both the NCAA and the UAAP. Not only were you facing the MVP of the league, a proven player in both the NCAA and UAAP. You did end up with seven points and 12 rebounds, but with what we’ve been used to, it felt off. There was plenty to take in, and it showed.
With that being said, Welcome to the UAAP Finals.
Now, that forearm on Bright Akhuetie. We know it was inadvertent. You were fighting for position and your man was not ready. It was unfortunate he landed that way, but an accident nonetheless. You got tentative with your play after this, but it’s part and parcel of being a rookie.
You’re probably asking yourself, “What’s the point of this guy in writing this piece?” It boils down to one word: support.
Know that the community is behind you, pulling for you to succeed. Whatever the circumstance may be, the contingent of Blue in the crowd is what matters.
Never forget your #BEBOB as well. They will be you rsource of courage in these trying times. They will be the first ones to pick you up when you are down, and protect you when you are being hurt. Trust them.
Pay no attention to the invectives hurled at you. You know yourself better than they know you. You did your part in apologizing. Forgive yourself and move on to the next game.
This experience can only make you grow not just as a player, but as a person too. You will learn how to shut down the unnecessary noise and focus on the things that actually matter. The community, the team, and I am sure that you are not afraid once the game begins this Wednesday.
Eventually, all this talk will die down. Everything that’s been said and down is now history. On Wednesday, it will be a new chapter. It will simply be time to play the game. Let your skill do the talking.
As your idol always says, Trust the Process. This is all part of the process. You live and you learn, and you have your #BEBOB and Ateneo community behind your back. Just do what you do, and you will be fine.