MANILA, Philippines – Adamson rookie Matthew Aquino knows he has a lot to live up to as he begins his collegiate career with the Soaring Falcons, and the son of former PBA great Marlou Aquino is ready to face all these challenges head on.
Matthew is among the 11 rookies that Adamson will field this season. The team is on rebuilding mode and not much is expected of the Soaring Falcons, but the young Aquino feels a special pressure because of his last name.
"Pressured ako dahil sa fans talaga," said Matthew, who at 17 already stands at 6-foot-7. "Kapag sinsabi nila, 'Aba, anak ito ni Marlou. Siguro, magaling din ito.' So ayun ang pressure sa akin."
"Sobrang laki ng pressure kasi anak ako ng dating PBA player. Maraming nagtatanong, 'Magaling ka ba? Parehas ba kayo ng Tatay mo? Gagalingan mo ba?' So malaking pressure."
The 6-foot-9 Marlou played for Adamson in the 1990s and was the first pick of the 1996 PBA Draft. He is now part of the Adamson coaching steff as one of the assistants to another Adamson legend, Kenneth Duremdes.
Matthew said he truly wanted to play for Adamson so he can follow in the footsteps of his father.
"Siyempre gusto ko sundan 'yung footsteps ng dad ko sa UAAP. Sa Adamson din siya, kaya gusto ko rin mag-aral sa Adamson. Gusto ko sundan 'yung footsteps niya," said Matthew.
But the young center also made it clear that he wanted to exceed what his father had achieved with the Soaring Falcons.
"Gusto ko galingan pa… Gusto ko mapa-champion ko (ang Adamson), kung pwede, dalawang beses pa," said Matthew.
That won't be an easy task at all, especially this coming season. Duremdes himself has said that they do not have a lot of expectations for the Falcons and that they are only hoping to be consistently competitive against the stronger UAAP teams.
"Wala talaga kaming ine-expect ngayon, kasi puro bata (kami)," said Matthew. "We're looking at this year na for experience lang talaga for the rookies… Hindi naman kami naglo-look na mag-champion this year."
On a personal level, Matthew said he is hoping to make his family proud with his performance in the UAAP this year, especially his father, who taught him the sport.
"Sana maging proud sila sa akin, kasi 'yung tatay ko hindi ko pa naririnig na sinasabi na proud siya sa akin eh," he said. "Sana naman ngayon margining ko kahit isang beses lang na 'Anak, proud ako sa 'yo.'"
Despite this, he said his father is his biggest fan.
"Sa akin talaga, si Dad, kasi siya talaga nag-train sa akin. Kahit dati, hindi ako mahilig sa basketball… hindi niya ako pinabayaan, siya 'yung nag-train sa akin from the very start," said the 17-year-old. "Para s akin, sobrang importante 'yung support ng father ko."
"Siyempre si Dad, malaking pressure din 'yung kasi ex-PBA player siya 'di ba, so parang gusto niya na parehas kami, so malaking pressure talaga," he added.
Although the Falcons are not expected to contend for a title this season, Matthew is at least expecting that he will have a great time playing in the UAAP.
"Marami akong naririnig na masaya daw mag-laro sa UAAP," he said.