It’s now the fourth week of the UAAP Season 76 Rookie Ladder and by now you probably know that it’s a two-man race between Axel Iñigo and Kyles Lao (with everyone else just struggling to even see the court).
The calm and collected playmaker versus the explosive scorer (reminds me of the rookie race between Irving and Rubio if you tone it down several notches). Axel Inigo has been a regular contributor off the bench and has been solid for the Falcons, while Lao has shown flashes of explosiveness, but has yet to lead his team to a victory.
Who will it be? There can only be one.
5. Joco Macasaet
Macasaet played his first game in the UAAP against the UP Fighting Maroons. He did well considering the limited playing time grabbing a rebound, getting a block and dishing an assist. It’s nice to see that Coach Pido Jarencio gave a bit of playing time to Macasaet and Faundo. They in turn held the fort and their play afforded the regular rotation players some rest.
4. Andre Paras
Andre Paras was very effective in the four minutes he was on the court. He made his first point of the season shooting a jumper off a pass from a driving teammate. He also grabbed a rebound and dished an assist.
3. Paul Desiderio (Previous Rank: 3)
Desiderio fell out of the rotation this week and racked up 2 DNPs. I guess the UP coaching staff wanted to try out other options at point guard. He’s had some decent contributions in limited minutes which is why he retains the 3rd spot.
2. Axel Iñigo (Previous Rank: 2)
DLSU was leading 65-50 against Adamson with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter. It seemed like all hope was lost. Coach Leo Austria fielded the court with Trollano, Abrigo, Sewa, Cruz and Inigo in hopes of finding something, anything that could help the Falcons spark a run… and that they did. Inigo was given the responsibility of piloting the ship in the most crucial run of the game and he responded by making a very gutsy floater in the lane and also dished two assists to a cutting Abrigo that were part of a 15-0 run to tie the game up with less than 2 minutes left. This kid was fearless as he finished with 7 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 19 minutes of play. I love the poise that Inigo plays with and he clearly isn’t afraid of the big moment. In the game versus FEU yesterday, he was limited to only four minutes of play since the bigger Romeo was posting him up possession after possession which forced the hand of the coaching staff to keep him glued on the bench. With Adamson close to losing sight on a final four berth, it will be up to Inigo to give them more at this point.
1. Kyles Lao (Previous Rank: 1)
The rookie sensation put up 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 18 minutes of play against UST. He played a decent game for the amount of time he gets, but I was left wanting more production from him in that game. Nevertheless, it was a good game for him and I was hoping that it could’ve been a start of a good run for Lao. However, against UE, he put up a stinker with 0 points, 2 assists and almost nothing else. It was disappointing to see Lao struggle the way he did especially since most of the UP players were contributing and it was probably their best chance at a win this season. With the game close down the wire, the team could’ve really used some fire power off the bench care of Lao. Maybe scouting around the league has caught up with him and has made life harder for Lao. Teams now understand that shutting down Lao will absolutely anihiliate UP’s bench production. In any case, I’m still loving Lao’s upside for the Maroons. He just needs to get some consistency going and maybe, just maybe, UP can pull off some upsets in the 2nd round.
Previous Rookie Ladders:
What makes a player in the UAAP eligible for the Rookie of the Year award?
The UAAP differentiates between Rookies (freshman college students from local high schools) and first year players. Only rookies are eligible for the ROY award in UAAP, which means that players like Ateneo’s Chris Newsome, La Salle’s Jason Perkins and the other foreign-born first year players are not included in the mix for the award.