Padrigao on stellar stint as Ateneo's lead playmaker — 'Just leading my team'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 02 2022 08:25 PM

Ateneo point guard Forthsky Padrigao (15) in action against the FEU Tamaraws. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News.
Ateneo point guard Forthsky Padrigao (15) in action against the FEU Tamaraws. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News.

MANILA, Philippines -- The point guard position came with a massive question mark for the Ateneo Blue Eagles heading into UAAP Season 85. For at least one game, Forthsky Padrigao showed that he was the answer.

Padrigao was thrust into the starting role at least a year ahead of schedule after the Blue Eagles lost veteran SJ Belangel to the professional ranks after Season 84. Ateneo also recruited Filipino-American guard Paul Garcia in the offseason, but it was the sophomore Padrigao who earned a spot in Tab Baldwin's first five. 

He showed on Sunday against Far Eastern University that it's a role he is ready for. Padrigao made seven of his 15 shots en route to 19 points, and displayed the court vision that made him such a highly-touted recruit. He finished with seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals in 27 minutes against just two turnovers.

Padrigao also ended the Tamaraws' hopes of a comeback with a clutch three-pointer in the final 38 seconds to preserve Ateneo's 79-70 win in their first game of UAAP Season 85. 

"I told myself before this season just to face any challenges na humarap sa akin, and try to overcome it," Padrigao said after earning Player of the Game honors. "For me, it's still a learning process kasi it's my first year to start for our team. 'Yun lang. For me, it's all about accepting all the challenges and trying to overcome [them]."

Padrigao saw little time in Season 84, as he was part of a crowded backcourt that also included Tyler Tio and Jolo Mendoza. He averaged just seven minutes per game, putting up 2.9 points and 1.8 assists in his 10 appearances.

But Baldwin points out that Padrigao is already a known commodity even before his breakout game against the Tamaraws.

"This kid's been a winner, a champion. He's a tough guy, he's the dirtiest player I have on the team. He's just… You can strip him down and there's no fear there, and he loves the moment," said Baldwin.

"If I can draw him instructions to find the weight room, at some point he's gonna be a pretty good basketball player. But you know, right now, he's more than useful," he added.

Though well aware of the pressure that is on him as Ateneo's new starting point guard, Padrigao says he is focused on what he needs to do. He leans on one of Baldwin's favorite teachings to the Blue Eagles -- to not let the moment be bigger than them.

He has also tuned out all debates and questions about the Blue Eagles, particularly about the point guard spot in the squad.

"Hindi ko kasi masyadong tinitingnan 'yung media na kung ready ba ako, whatsoever," Padrigao explained. "For me, I'm just trying to lead my team, kung paano ako kailangan ni Coach Tab gamitin."

"I'm just focusing on my team lang talaga. The outside noise, hindi ko talaga pinapakialaman, ayun."

Catch replays of UAAP Season 84 games via the UAAP Varsity channel on iWantTFC, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.