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Bonleon speaks up about move to España

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After a hiatus, Growling Tigers’ forward Mario Bonleon has finally broken his silence regarding his transfer from UE to the premises of UST, settling the puzzled minds of many about the issue.

A couple of years ago, Bonleon was clad in red and white, suiting up for the Red Warriors after finishing his high school years at La Salle-Greenhills (LSGH). His first appearance as a Red Warrior was in the 2013 FilOil-Flying V Hanes Premier Cup. A bright future was envisioned for the young forward as a UE stalwart, but shook everyone’s heads after a stunning move to his career.

June in that same year, Bonleon did the unthinkable – from being a promising Red Warrior, Bonleon was nowhere to be found come UAAP Season 76. All of a sudden, the Greenies alumnus has switched schools, from the university along Recto to the gates of España. Such a move left others puzzled, including his former school.

The move somewhat brought a negative impact to his game, since transferring from one UAAP school to another requires a long, two-year residence; which means a long layoff from competitive basketball. But now that his residence is all used up, Bonleon is now seen by many as a promising Growling Tiger under Head Coach Ariel Dela Cruz, doing his best to help the team in ways he could.

Now that the issue can be considered as a thing of the past, the former RP-Youth member has fully opened up about what really happened two years ago.

“Medyo hindi lang nagkaintindihan ‘yung parents ko tsaka si Coach [Boycie Zamar, former UE head coach], kasi pumunta ako ng UE dahil gusto ko tulungan ‘yung team. Pero, pagdating n’ung FilOil, wala man lang akong nagawa, kasi ‘di man lang ako nabigyan ng chance,” said Bonleon, recalling the scenario a few years back. “Na-lineup naman ako, pero parang sobrang down na. So inilabas na lang ako ng parents ko at nilipat ako sa UST,” he added.

Bonleon admitted that it was his parents’ decision to send him to another school, with limited playing time as the main reason that prompted them to do so. “’Di naman ako nawala sa lineup; parents ko mismo ‘yung nag-alis sa akin,” shared he. “Kasi, sabi niyo nga, ‘yung credentials ko, RP Team, so ine-expect namin na isa ako sa makakatulong at magle-lead ng team, kaso wala talagang playing time eh, kaya lumipat na lang ako.”

“Wala naman akong problema sa playing time eh. Kaya ko naman magtiis, kaya lang ‘yung parents ko talaga parang naaawa sa’kin, kasi ‘di sila sanay na nakikita ako na nasa bench lang. Tahimik lang ako noon; sila na talaga ‘yung nag-desisyon na lumipat ako. ‘Di ko kayang gawin [lumipat] pero nagawa nila [para sa akin],” spilled by Bonleon, regarding the truth behind his sudden shift of schools.

Transferring from another UAAP school requires a two-year residency, and the former RP-Youth cager disclosed that he was afraid his game might fade in that span. “Nag-pray lang ako na sana ‘yung game ko gan’un pa rin, kasi ‘yung iba nawawala eh. Pero buti na lang nakaabot ako. Parang ang bilis nga lang eh,” stressed Bonleon. “Nag-work lang talaga ako at nag-pray,” he furthered.

With the issue all settled, the streak-shooting forward now just gives his all for his newfound home, and focuses on helping UST get back on top of college basketball, particularly in the UAAP, if ever he makes it in the lineup. “’Pag kailangan nila ako mag-shoot or defense, tutulungan ko lang sila. Tutulungan ko rin ‘yung mga veterans namin, sina [Ed] Daquioag, [Kevin] Ferrer na makapasok sa Final Four [o kaya] sa Finals. Tutulungan ko sila. ‘Yun lang ang role ko ngayon,” explained Bonleon.

Their chances of barging into this year’s Final Four are high, according to Bonleon. But their hopes will only be attainable, as said by him, if the team will gel as a unit to be as one. “Chemistry lang namin. Actually, malakas na ‘yung line-up namin ngayon. Kami ‘yung may maraming veterans na magagaling pa, sina Ferrer, Daquioag, [Karim] Abdul, at Kent Lao. Chemistry lang,” proudly said by Bonleon.

“’Pag kami naglaro na ng maayos, may chance. Sobrang deep ng team namin, kahit sino pwede [mag-step up],” he concluded.

He was once hounded by trials and tribulations, but now that the smoke has been cleared, all that he has to do now is to show what he’s made of.

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Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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