Jeepy Faundo is the accidental tourist making the most out of an opportunity.
About eight years ago, Faundo was visiting his older brother, Byran, who just completed his college career with Letran and was headed for the PBA draft.
“Dumalaw lang ako,” recalled the younger brother who is 10 years Bryan’s junior. “Pauwi na ako sa Pangasinan nu’ng sabi ni kuya, ‘May tryout ka sa Jose Rizal University.’”
Jeepy admits he was so raw and gangly but the Light Bombers still took him in. A big man is still a big man (even if he wasn’t at his current height of 6-foot-6 then).
From JRU, Faundo was recruited by the University of Santo Tomas. “Excited ako kasi papunta ako sa UAAP tapos meron akong chance na makakuha ng college degree.”
There were highs and lows during his five-year college stint with the Growling Tigers — three coaches, two frustrating finals appearances, and a lot of angst. Yet in his final year, Jeepy gave it his all.
That helped him get contracts with Café France, Racal, and Che’Lu in the D-League before joining the Bataan Risers in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
“ ’Yung mga teams ko sa D-League lalo na yung Café France under coach Egay Macaraya,“ where he tasted a championship, helped whet his appetite for more. Winning a title makes Faundo want more and he hopes to help the Risers to one.
“Nu’ng unang ensayo ko pa lang dito ay na-feel ko na welcome ako,” he thought of that day. “Medyo nu’ng una nailang kasi ilan lang kakilala ko – si Alfred Batino sa Café France. Puro sila mga nakalaban ko sa UAAP at kung saan. Pero nu’ng nakilala ko na OK naman pala. Siyempre, bata pa ako so marami pa akong natututunan.”
It helps to have some winners on his side in Bataan – Pamboy Raymundo, Alfred Batino, Vince Tolentino, JJ Alejandro, Achi Iñigo, and Gary David all have basketball gold and experience tucked under their collective belts.
“Ang mahirap kapag nasa team ka na laging talo ay mabigat dalhin,” he shared as referred to his final season with UST in Season 79 (2017). “Nakaka-epekto sa kompiyansa.”
In that final season with the Growling Tigers, Faundo averaged a poor 5.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as UST finished dead last with a 3-11 record.
“Akala ko walang kukuha sa akin pagkatapos sa college,” he surmised.
But coaches and other players liked his potential. A rim protector and with springs in his heels, Jeepy is relishing an opportunity to be with a team he likes and with a chance to win a championship. He is currently averaging 7.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in 14 minutes an outing; good numbers considering he is playing seven fewer minutes than he did with UST. Imagine what he can do with more.
“Basta ako happy ako rito na-represent ’yung Bataan at makasama sa team na to na very professional sa kanilang trabaho. Masaya ’to. Heto ’yung mga team na gusto mo kasali ka,” he lavished on the Risers organization.
“Sana makapagbigay ng tayo ng championship sa Bataan.”
The Bataan Risers will play against the Marikina Shoemasters this coming Saturday, April 18, at 6 p.m. at Colegio De San Agustin Gym in Makati.
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