We’re now early in the second round of UAAP action with all teams playing one game each this week. Some of these teams who are already eliminated from the final four or whose chances might be slim can consider these next weeks as a development period for their rookies or younger players. Most of the rookies don’t play much in the UAAP and the ones who do usually just play around 1-7 minutes, just to fill in and hold the fort for the regular rotation players. This isn’t a bad deal since anytime you get exposure and experience as a rookie, you just try to absorb and learn from it. However, I do expect (hope) that some of these rookies get more playing time moving forward.
Let’s look at the ladder this week and see who stood out.
5. Andre Paras
Paras is an interesting figure. He’s solid defensively but hasn’t been given much minutes this year to prove his offensive ability. He’s held down the fort with the limited minutes he’s been given. In the game vs. ADMU, he had a rebound and a block in six minutes of play.
4. Paul Desiderio
Desiderio gave a solid effort with the minutes that was dealt to him in the game vs. DLSU. He was crashing the boards, scored a putback, and even got a jumper to go in. He was very efficient in his seven minutes of play, shooting 2/2 with 4 points and 3 rebounds. Even with the coaching change, Desiderio was still given limited minutes, but it was understandable as Asilum went nuts scoring the ball in the DLSU game. Desiderio still has a couple of games/practices to win over Coach Madrid and get more minutes as a rookie.
3. Kib Montalbo
Kib Montalbo and Axel Iñigo are probably the only two rookies that have had performances that helped get wins this year for their teams (tough luck for Kyles, no wins in UP). In the game vs. UP, Montalbo showed DLSU that he could really be a solid contributor for years to come, especially with Karate Kib’s really solid defense. On the offensive end, he doesn’t force anything and shoots spot up jumpers well. He hit a spot up three and a midrange jumper, finishing with 5 points and 2 rebounds. If Montalbo can hit those spot up shots consistently, DLSU will be really dangerous with him and shooters Vosotros and Salem.
2. Axel Iñigo
Iñigo probably is the best point guard in this rookie class but since his ankle injury, he’s been a non-factor. His production has dipped a bit, continuing in the game vs. ADMU where he finished with two points, two rebounds, no assists and three turnovers in 18 minutes. With the Falcons struggling with a 3-7 record, they need Iñigo to step up, especially since they’re lacking consistent play from the point guard position. It’s also interesting to note that this Falcon tailspin has coincided with his lackluster play. Hopefully, Iñigo can bounce back in the next couple of games especially since Adamson can still mathematically make the Final Four.
1. Kyles Lao
Lao is probably already going to be awarded Rookie of the Year, but his numbers have really dipped over the past three games. Kyles shot 22/43 in his first six games (51.2%). But in his last 3 games, his clip dipped to 6/23 (26.1%). Here’s some good news, Kyles played 24 minutes (4 minutes above his average) in Rey Madrid’s first game as UP’s head coach. It could have been a number of things that affected Lao’s recent performance (fatigue, scouting catching up, UP internal turmoil, etc.), but great players find ways to fight through them and adjust. Kyles needs to find a way and get back to the explosive scorer we’ve seen him be in the first few games.
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.