MANILA, Philippines – Much has been said about the University of Santo Tomas (UST) troika of Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rhenz Abando, and Mark Nonoy, all of whom have played a big role in the Growling Tigers' superb start to UAAP Season 82.
On Sunday against Far Eastern University (FEU), another rookie joined the fray for UST, as Sherwin Concepcion torched the Tamaraws to help his team claim a crucial 82-74 triumph.
Concepcion, who played high school basketball in Mapua University, drilled three consecutive three-pointers in the third quarter, as the Tigers overturned a 39-34 halftime deficit and seized control of the game. His triples put UST ahead, 64-55, heading into the final frame, and the Tamaraws would get no closer than five points from then on.
The 6-foot-3 big man finished with 12 points, making four of his 8 attempts from beyond the arc.
"Matagal ko nang inaantay 'yung laro niya na ganito," UST head coach Aldin Ayo said of Concepcion, who had made just 6 of his 27 three-pointers before their game against FEU.
"Maganda na 'yung mga rookies namin, they are introducing theirselves, one by one. So right now, Sherwin introduced himself," he added. "Medyo late, pero better late than never."
For the 22-year-old Concepcion, it's all about keeping the trust that Ayo has put in him – especially after a scoreless first half that saw him struggle from the field.
"Sa first half kanina, nawawala ako at hindi ako maka-depensa. 'Yun na nga, ayaw ko mawala 'yung tiwala sa akin ni Coach Aldin, 'yung binibigay na tiwala sa akin, gusto kong mapalitan," he explained.
It helped that Ayo encouraged Concepcion to just keep shooting even after he went 0-of-4 from the field in the first half, including missing all three of his attempts from long-range.
"Palaging sinasabi ni Coach Aldin, na 'pag 'di daw pumapasok ang mga tira ko, huwag daw mawala 'yung kumpyansa, at huwag daw mawala ang laro ko," said the rookie forward.
"Kasi ayun na nga, 'yung tiwala nga ni Coach Aldin sa akin, gusto ko hindi mawala 'yun," he added.
The next step for Concepcion now is to become a consistent contributor, much like his fellow rookies. Chabi Yo had taken charge for UST against FEU, putting up his usual numbers of 21 points and 15 rebounds. Both Nonoy (11 points) and Abando (10 points) finished in double-digits.
"Hopefully, because of this game, he continues to be consistent, na every game, lumabas 'yung laro," said Ayo of Concepcion.
"Of course, magdedepende sa kalaban namin, pero he'll find a way, and kung ano man 'yung kulang niya, sana punuan niya, and it will start during the practice," he added.
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