Team Punks defeated Team Hype Sunday night, 103-98, in the Third SLAM Rising Stars Classic, an exhibition game featuring the best high school players in the Philippines.
Aljun Melecio took over late to finish with 11 points, including a dagger three in the final few seconds of the match. The De La Salle-Zobel standout captured the game’s MVP award.
Three others scored in double-digits for Team Punks. Aside from Melecio, more ballers stood out, like Tyler Tio from the losing side who poured 21 points on a slew of moves, and John Lloyd Clemente who topscored with 23 points.
Here are some takeaways from the game:
Aljun Melecio and Tyler Tio are not afraid to take charge
If your team ever needs guys to take charge and lead, these two guards should be on top of the list. Tyler Tio, a playmaker from Xavier School, showcased his ability to read the floor and set up his teammates with good passes. Tio had a no-look pass in the first half, although it was blown away by Brent Paraiso. The possession after, Tio sent a bounce pass to Gian Mamuyac in transition as the latter was able to finish the fastbreak play. Later in the second half, Tio also showed his ability to finish around the rim. There was one play where he used the help of a double-high screen, before splitting the defense to get to the basket and draw a foul. The way he maneuvers past defenses reminds you a bit of Kyrie Irving, perhaps minus the fancy dribbling.
Aljun Melecio, meanwhile, hit big shots in the fourth quarter. In one play, he scored on a drive and also got contact for an and-one opportunity. Then in the dying seconds of the match, he did a step back to evade his defender before draining a huge triple. Like Tio, Melecio is fearless and can also attack the basket.
Samuel Abu Hijleh is a frontcourt piece teams will love
San Beda forward Samuel Abu Hijleh knows how to move well without the ball and finish around the rim, making him a good option underneath, especially when he has playmakers who can set him up. Abu Hijleh was given some extra passes in the first half which he converted after diving to the basket. He also had a pick-and-roll play wherein he was given ball, then power dribbled before finishing strong. The only potential hurdle perhaps manufacturing his own shot, because it looks like he needs setting up, but it is something he will likely develop.
It doesn’t matter which Gomez De Llano is better…
…because they’re both good. Well, Juan Gomez De Llano showed his brother why he is better, scoring 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting including a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range. His brother, Juan, ended up with six points, six rebounds, and a steal. Both guys can be good wing men for their future teams. Juan right now is the better shooter; he can pull up, create, and drive. Javi is more of a catch-and-shoot guy, but he also uses his length well at both ends. In one play, Javi tipped the ball to himself for an offensive rebound, before finishing with a hangtime move.
Ricci Rivero will need some improvement on his shooting
La Salle Greenhills’ freakishly athletic Ricci Rivero just showed exactly what he can do, flushing down a two-handed slam off a breakaway in the first half. There is no questioning his athleticism, but Rivero must improve his shooting. He finished with eight points and four boards but was only 3-for-10 from the floor. Still, he drives a lot and he can also pass; his future team should utilize those strengths to make him thrive. There are players like Matt Ganuelas in the PBA or DeMar DeRozan in the NBA who use their athleticism to their advantage to at least be a good piece in the system. Ganuelas is a terrific defender, and when he plays the point, he can attack hard. DeRozan leads the NBA in drives and he generates a lot of points for himself or his teammates off those. If Rivero can work on his shooting, it will be a huge plus, but for the meantime, he should take advantage of his quickness and athleticism.
Sherwin Concepcion lead underdog cast
Malayan forward Sherwin Concepcion had his own good moments in the match. Concepcion has a decent touch from the outside, and he showed a glimpse of what he can do. He hit a long two in the first half, and drilled a three off a kickout pass. There was also one play in the second half where he did a pick-and-pop play with a guard, and was left open as defense collapsed on the drive. Though undersized, he can be a good floor-spacing forward for teams needing such dynamic.
John Lloyd Clemente can be a problem for future opponents
National U wing man John Lloyd Clemente topscored with 23 points in the match. He was fearless in attacking the basket, getting a total of eight free throw attempts (and making all of them). Clemente has a penchant for pulling up from the free throw line or elbow area, which makes him an even better threat when he has the ball. He can confuse the opposing defense into thinking he’ll drive or shoot right away, and this part of his game should be a huge weapon in the future.