Stocky and undersized, Alvin Pasaol of the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors is one player I dig in the ongoing Season 80 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
Being on the hefty side during my playing days and even bigger now, I surely appreciate the effort and confidence that the Davao native is showing for the struggling Warriors, who are currently in seventh place with a 1-6 record.
Last week, the 6’3” power forward had one of the best, if not the best, offensive performances in recent UAAP history by averaging 40.5 points (!) in two games.
The 23-year-old Pasaol first scored 49 points in their 106-100 loss to the defending champions De La Salle Green Archers last Wednesday and followed it up with a 32-point outing three days later in their 96-91 victory over the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on Saturday.
His explosion against La Salle was the highest in the league since former National University player and now Letran coach Jeff Napa dropped 43 points in 2002.
It also topped the school records set by UE legends Allan Caidic and James Yap of 46 and 36 points, respectively.
In scoring 49 big points, Pasaol did it in an efficient 66% shooting clip (20-of-30) from the field while also peppering it with eight rebounds and four steals.
Against UST, he also proved to be a handful, scoring 32 markers, on 13-of-27 shooting, with 10 rebounds in helping his team to its first victory of the season.
No doubt about it, aside from talent (you don’t average 40.5 points in one stretch on just sheer luck) Pasaol having the kind of game he has is also a result of a lot of confidence and hard work.
Compared to the taller and bigger players of the other teams, mostly foreigners at that, in the same position as his, Pasaol is holding his own and is not backing down.
To think also that UE has been struggling, it is easy to just go with the motions.
But not Pasaol, who has been battling it out on the floor and continue to show the way for the Red Warriors, body aching and all.
In describing the play of Pasaol, who is averaging a league second-best 22.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks, UE coach Derrick Pumaren said he is a special type of player who can do a lot of things despite the seeming “limitations” he has.
The coach even juxtaposed some qualities of Pasaol to those of UAAP and later Philippine Basketball Association legends Jun Limpot and Caidic, who Pumaren was able to coach back in the day, which speaks a lot.
At the rate he is going, I only see Pasaol only getting better moving forward in the ongoing season of the UAAP.
I am not seeing him averaging 40.5 points in stretches as I am sure the other teams will prepare for him but he will continue to weigh, make no mistake, armed with the growing confidence he has.
And hopefully the rest of the Red Warriors would follow his lead of never giving up and staying confident so as to give their supporters more reason to rally behind their campaign.
Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld reporter covering the Sports beat.