MANILA, Philippines – After a tremendous start to his collegiate career, Ateneo rookie Arvin Tolentino has seemingly hit the rookie wall. The former San Beda Red Cub has struggled in the Blue Eagles' past three games, culminating in a scoreless outing against the University of the East (UE).
Tolentino acknowledged his struggles in a tweet after Ateneo's hard-fought 78-73 win over UE, saying: "Anybody there who can give me money so I can buy a bucket?" The rookie took only one shot – a three-pointer – against the Red Warriors and bricked it.
Tolentino's teammates have rallied around him, however. Chris Newsome, who scored a season-high 23 points against UE, told reporters: "We really shouldn't be getting on him for things like that. We should be encouraging him."
"Arvin is in a tough spot because he's forced to learn really, really fast," Newsome pointed out. "He's expected to get to this learning curve of being a starter."
"But he's a rookie, and sometimes it's hard to put that kind of pressure on him. So what we try to do is to keep him positive and make sure he continues to get those shots and keep that confidence," he added. "That's really important, especially if you're a rookie because there are times you start doubting yourself."
Tolentino also struggled in Ateneo's 86-88 loss to De La Salle University last weekend, scoring seven points but only putting up three shots. After that game, star guard Kiefer Ravena said that Tolentino's struggles were to be expected.
"He's a rookie. He'll adjust to the second round," Ravena said.
Ateneo coach Bo Perasol also said it was "natural" for Tolentino to struggle a bit, but said he plans to talk more to the rookie and figure out what he was dealing with.
"I have to understand what he is undergoing, I have to know kung ano nasa isip niya and help him go through the process," said Perasol.
"Ang importante diyan, alam niya na kailangan namin siya in the games to come. Kailangan, he has to understand ano ba 'yung nire-require ko for him defensively and offensively. He has to be physicaly and mentally prepared to compete," added the coach.
Tolentino averaged 12.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game after the first round of the competition, and was eighth in the league in terms of statistical points with 53.4286 SPs, ahead of players like Jason Perkins and Roi Sumang, who both made the Mythical Five last season.