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Caracut, Navarro brace for bigger duties

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Last Sunday, the De La Salle Green Archers ended their first round on a high note after defeating rivals, the Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles, 80-76, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

For both teams, the marquee stars came out to play as King Archer Jeron Teng led La Salle with 18 points, six rebounds, and five assists while for Ateneo, King Eagle Kiefer Ravena finished the game with 19 points, five rebounds, and five assists.

The game also saw the Ateneo-La Salle debut of rookies Andrei Caracut and Renzo Navarro. Just like in the first part of this series, Tiebreaker Times caught up with the rookies and talked about their thoughts and realizations about their La Salle-Ateneo debut.

Caracut embracing big responsibilitiesPhilippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Caracut, Navarro brace for bigger duties

A standout from the San Beda Red Cubs during his high school years, Caracut is one of the bright spots for La Salle in their ongoing UAAP Season 78 campaign.

In the first round, the rookie guard averaged norms of 10.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. His best game so far came in their match against the University of the East Red Warriors wherein he dropped 16 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

In their win against Ateneo, Caracut tallied a statline of six points, four rebounds and an assist in 19 minutes of action.

“Grabe, sobrang wild ang crowd and inamin ko na ang pressure nandiyan. Pero kahit papaano na-overcome ko naman ang pressure kahit medyo may mga mali akong ginawa,” Caracut reflected. “[Parang] mas na-pressure ako [against Ateneo compared to his other games]. Hindi ko inexpect ‘yung mga nangyari.”

Usually for rookies playing in an emotionally-charged game like the La Salle-Ateneo rivalry, jitters will always be the common theme for them. This was the case for the former NCAA Juniors MVP last Sunday.

As the game progressed, Caracut, who has been playing deep minutes for the Green Archers throughout the season, off-set his bad shooting game by playing solid defense. He may have coughed up the ball in some instances but he would make it up on defensive end of the floor by getting timely stops.

“[I have] a lot of responsibilities sa team. Iyon lang, laro lang ako kung ano ang meron ko at gagawin ko kung ano ang pinapagawa nila,” he added.

Now, with seven UAAP games under his belt, Caracut hopes that it will be a continuous learning process for him as the season goes deeper.

“Iyong first round ko, siyempre, may mga maganda na rin akong pinakita pero hindi ako satisfied doon,” he closed. “Kailangan ko pang maging composed sa laro, maging mautak sa decision making. Nagpapasalamat ako na nangyari iyon at [sana] sa second round [sana] hindi ko na maulit iyon at [dapat] maovercome ko.”

Navarro ready for bigger rolePhilippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Caracut, Navarro brace for bigger duties

Another member of La Salle’s Season 78 rookie class, Navarro is now expected to have a bigger load on his shoulders as one of the team’s main backup guards since Kib Montalbo suffered an ACL injury during the preseason.

In the first round, Navarro average norms of 2.2 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.7 assists in six games played. Navarro played just five minutes in his team’s win against Ateneo and finishing with three points and an assist.

“Sobrang iba iyong feeling niya. I’ve played sa juniors, sa championship, pero times ten ang feeling,”  Navarro said after their win against Ateneo. “Sobrang saya niya at nanalo pa kami. Kaya ayon, ibang-iba iyong feeling.”

As time had shown, rookies will always make the most of the limited time they are given. But for Navarro, he constantly relies on his coach and teammates’ guidance to ease his transition in the collegiate basketball style of play.

“Hindi naman kami pinepressure ni coach,” he added. “Kinakausap niya kami ng mabuti para wala kaming excess na pressure na mafeel kaya hindi naman masyado, okay naman, hindi naman pressured.”

With the season about to get more challenging as the second round is set to start next week, Navarro expects that he can use his learnings from the first round as a springboard to help him perform better in his team’s next slate of games.

“Siguro, medyo nag-aadjust na ako sa physicality and iyong sa role ko [as one of the backup guards],” he quipped. “Mas kailangan ko ngayong mag-organize ng team kasi maraming scorers at kailangan kong mabalance iyon. Okay naman [ang adjustment ko kasi] nandoon naman si Thomas [Torres] to guide me.”

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