Even before the 2016 FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup tipped off, the DLSU Green Archers were the heavy favorites, going into a brand new season of college hoops. With an intact roster, even before the returns of Jason Perkins and Julian Sargent, a newly-hired champion coach in Aldin Ayo, another bumper crop of blue chip rookies, and their crown jewel Ben Mbala finally becoming eligible, there was no doubt that they were the strongest team on paper.

Two months later, DLSU showed every other collegiate team just what they’re capable of. They posted a perfect record in the FilOil tournament, en route to the championship, and confirmed the biggest fears of their opponents. Mbala is in fact a Monstar. Jeron Teng is still a scoring machine. Ayo’s “mayhem” scheme has been successfully implemented in Taft. This is a frighteningly deep roster.

And that last point is best seen in the surprise development of Abu Tratter.

When we all first saw Tratter back in UAAP Season 77, he was yet another tree in DLSU’s giant roster. Standing 6’6”, he was a decent hustle guy for the Green Archers, and could get opposing players to think twice about the possibility of getting their shot blocked or altered. However, because the team still had guys like Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres, he was only sparingly used.

Tratter got a chance to shine a season later. He started DLSU’s first three games, but soon got sent back to the bench, and even accumulated a couple of DNP’s late in the season. Despite a size disadvantage, the Archers didn’t seem to want him on the floor for long stretches.

Part of that was his lack of offense. He scored a whopping 21 points total in 11 games, for an average of 1.9 markers. But it wasn’t as if he made up for that on defense either. Tratter was just decent rebounding and blocking shots, when the Archers needed someone exceptional.

It would have been safe to assume that Tratter would become expendable with Mbala ready to play. After all, anything Tratter could do, Mbala could do better. Instead, something funny happened. Playing alongside Mbala has boosted Tratter’s game.

By the FilOil tourney’s end, Tratter had been named to the Mythical Five, alongside Mbala and Teng. Watching him play now, his improvement is quickly noticeable.

With all the attention Mbala attracts, Tratter is often left wide open for easy baskets, put-backs, and caroms. He’s helped himself out too by getting rid of his hands of stone. No more fumbling the ball on drop passes now!

As a result, Tratter went from Season 78 averages of 1.9 points and 3.2 rebounds to 9.8 points and 6.7 rebounds. That’s a pretty sweet jump in his stats, which Tratter credited assistants Glenn Capacio and Siot Tanquingcen for.

Come UAAP Season 79, Mbala will get all the stats. Teng, in his final season, will get all the press. But all that attention put elsewhere means Tratter will be able to take advantage and do his thing. Not bad for someone who spent the majority of his time on the bench in the past.