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Tiebreaker Times


Co-captain Andrei Caracut responds to Louie Gonzalez’s challenge

After a stellar rookie campaign, Andrei Caracut took a backseat in his sophomore and junior years. But now as a senior, a lot is expected of the 5-foot-11 guard.

During his first-year with the De La Salle University Green Archers, Caracut posted norms of 9.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists en route to the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Basketball Rookie of the Year plum.

With those type of numbers in a loaded squad, there was nowhere for him to go but up.

A coaching switch from Juno Sauler to Aldin Ayo changed his trajectory. In his sophomore year, his production dropped to 4.4 points per game as his minutes were cut in half. A year later, Caracut – who started all the games – put up 7.4 points per game.

Something had to change according to Louie Gonzalez – his third coach in four years.

“Actually, sinabihan ko nga siya yesterday na, ‘Andrei, you need to change whatever you’re doing right now, ’cause it’s different now.’

“Siguro nasanay siya for the last two years na ganon ang routine niya, parang nagiging pareho lang,” disclosed Gonzalez, as he even named Caracut as the team’s co-captain together with Kib Montalbo.

“Since January naging co-captain ako, naging challenge sa akin to na kailangan mag-lead na ako ng team, maging good example sa team,” said Caracut, on the other hand. “Para sa akin, naging mabuti rin yun, kailangan talaga pumukpok e, magtrabaho. Nakabuti rin.

“Challenge din sa akin.”

During the first round, the now-22-year-old is playing 25 minutes a game with norms of 8.0 ponts, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per outing. But to close out their opening round campaign, he only managed to put up eight points against the Adamson Soaring Falcons, in a game that went into overtime.

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“I spoke to him since before the Adamson game, that I need him, I need him, I need him to get his confidence back, kasi talagang malaki ang role niya sa team na ‘to,” added Gonzalez. “Hindi lang bilang co-captain sila ni Kib, pero Andrei himself, alam naman natin kung ano ang kaya niyang ibigay eh.”

Having been given a huge responsibility, Caracut stepped up big during La Salle’s 79-59 rout of the University of the East Red Warriors as he finished with his season-high 16 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists.

For the product of San Beda Taytay, he never lost confidence in himself. He just needed someone to believe in him again.

“Sa akin naman talaga, kahit nung first game palang until now yung kumpyansa ko buong buo talaga. Hindi ko lang alam kung paano ko gagamitin yung kumpyansa na yun offensively, pero defensively marami naman akong natutulong.

“Yung mindset nalang siguro na kailangan hanapin ko muna yung sarili ko bago ko hanapin yung mga kakampi ko. Ganun. Pero within the system. Siguro nagawa ko naman yun ngayon, nag-provide ako ng score at natulungan ko yung mga teammates ko,” he closed.

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