What made Jet Nieto's playing style different from sons Matt, Mike

Rey Joble

Posted at Aug 07 2022 02:27 AM

NLEX Road Warriors website
Proud father Jet Nieto (upper right) during the signing of his son Matt Nieto for NLEX. Photo from NLEX Road Warriors website

Had it not been for his higher calling of becoming a doctor, Jet Nieto would have operated inside the basketball court and might have joined his college teammates from Ateneo like Alex Araneta, Eric Reyes, Jun Reyes and Olsen Racela playing in the PBA.

But Jet chose to become Dr. Nieto and saving lives is definitely a more noble task than shooting buckets.

Over the past two conferences, basketball fans were able to see a new generation of Nietos pursuing a cage career.

Matt and Mike, the Nieto twins who are sons of Dr. Nieto, are now enjoying a promising start in their respective PBA careers. 

The brothers were members of the champion teams of Ateneo high school and college teams and went on to represent Gilas Pilipinas in major international tournaments. 

Mike, who plays for Rain or Shine as a shooting forward, is now a part of the team's young core.

In the ongoing Philippine Cup, MIke's team failed to advance past the elimination round, but he had shown a lot of promise, averaging 11.7 points on 46.2% shooting from the field. 

He was also a steady free throw shooter, hitting 88.2% from the charity stripe while also pulling down 4.3 rebounds and dishing out 2.3 assists per game.

His brother, Matt, who plays for the NLEX Road Warriors, has just returned from a calf injury, but he has been a key contributor for his PBA squad.

He played only six games with the Road Warriors, averaging 5.2 points, including 33.3% shooting from beyond the arc and dishing out three assists per game.

The brothers were members of the multiple champion teams of Ateneo, but Dr. Jet was one of the Half of Famers of the Blue Eagles team and was a part of the back-to-back champion squads in the UAAP in 1987 and 1988.

Looking back, Dr. Jet's former teammates, had a more fitting description of how he plays.

"Jet is mentally tough," said Danny Francisco, the 6-foot-7 center, who played with the team in those two championship runs before his untimely retirement in 1989 due to a heart ailment.

"He can dish it out and actually, receive it also. For me, para siyang si James Harden. Matibay."

Mel Basa, also a former Blue Eagle, described him as a player who has split personalities.

"Parang Jeckyll and Hyde siya," added Basa. "Outside the court, 'Oh my God!' Parang Baby Bonjing namin yan. But inside the court, parang monster yan."

PBA great Olsen Racela, who played as a backup point guard to Reyes during that time, considered the elder Nieto as someone who doesn't stand out in practices just like other good players.

"He's someone who's not good in practice, but he really brings his A-Game during games," added Racela. "Ganun siya."

The twins didn't have the luxury of seeing their dad play and could only watch the recorded 1987 and 1988 championship games of Ateneo where Dr. Jet was one of the Blue Eagles' vital cogs.

But Dr. Jet had other plans and pursued a bigger calling, but while the elder Nieto didn't embark on a professional career, he wanted his sons to continue something that he wasn't able to do in basketball. 

"Nung bata kami, si dad, parating niri-reminisce yung time when he was playing," added Mike. "Yung champion years niya sa Ateneo. CD pa nga yun, pinapapanood niya sa amin, the 87 and 88 championship he had against UE and La Salle." 

"From there on, kami ni Matt, nangarap na rin kami to don the blue and white jersey in the UAAP. It started when we were six years, sinabi namin ni Matt sinabi naman sa daddy namin na, 'gusto rin naming maging kagaya mo, daddy, to represent the Blue Eagles' and hopefully, mag-champion rin sa high school and college. Doon nagsimula yung paglalaro namin ng basketball." 

Now the brothers are making their daddy proud as they are doing something what Dr. Jet failed to do -- playing in the PBA. 

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