MANILA, Philippines -- Jose Rizal University's (JRU) freshman class is starting to make its mark, just five games into the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament.
Rookie bigs John Amores, Marwin Dionisio, and Stefan Steinl all had their moments in the Heavy Bombers' impressive 71-66 triumph over University of Perpetual Help on Tuesday, while rookie point guard JL delos Santos had a tremendous all-around game.
Amores scored 15 points, Dioniso and Steinl each had 12, while delos Santos did a little bit of everything in putting up 7 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals.
JRU head coach Louie Gonzales praised his young players, particularly Amores and delos Santos, for their display of composure after the Altas had trimmed a 14-point lead to five in crunch time.
"Especially with these two guys, coming off a very good showing sa last NCAA season, talagang sky-high 'yung mga confidence nitong mga 'to eh," he said.
Amores, Dionisio and delos Santos, along with Tom Vasquez, are all products of JRU's high school program, while the burly Steinl is a Fil-German recruit.
"Ang unang chineck ko sa kanila, dito sa apat na 'to na umakyat na 'to, chineck ko sa kanila 'yung character at saka 'yung attitude," said Gonzales. "Nakita ko talagang palaban, and they really fit kung ano 'yung gusto kong mangyari."
The JRU rookies are doing all this while still adjusting to the pace and physicality of the seniors' game.
"For me, napaka-hirap mag-adjust," admitted Amores, who went 6-of-11 from the field on Tuesday against Perpetual. "Sabi nga ni coach, sumandal lang kami sa sistema. Kasi 'pag hindi, lalong-lalo na ako, 'pag hindi ako sumandal sa sistema, mas nahihirapan po ako eh."
"'Yun lang laging sinasabi sa amin ng mga coaches namin. Stick to the system lang," added delos Santos.
It helps that all of them know each other quite well and are already very familiar with how each other plays.
"Hindi na po kami maiilang sa bawat isa," said Amores, who was last season's Most Improved Player in the juniors ranks.
"Siguro malaking bagay 'yung cohesiveness nilang apat eh," noted Gonzales. "Siguro si Tom nahuhuli, pero as long as majority, 'yung tatlo alam kong magkakilala talaga ng husto, alam na nila 'yung strength ng bawat isa."
"So malaking bagay, I really ride on that. Talagang sinasakyan ko 'yun," he said.
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