When Encho Serrano was about to choose his jersey number for the De La Salle University Green Archers, he wanted to pick the number 8. However, his father advised him not to.
“Dapat 8 kasi Calvin, pero kasi sabi ng daddy ko, gamitin mo na lang 18,” disclosed the 19-year-old, who is also from Pampanga.
“Gumawa ka ng sariling pangalan. Yun na nga yung gusto kong gawin.”
And it was his father’s way of helping remove the pressure from his son.
When the explosive yet controversial 6-foot guard committed to La Salle, expectations were high. Despite all the baggage he carried, Serrano was still seen as the bluest of chips.
But with it came pressure.
It showed during his first two games in the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament, as he only averaged 2.0 points in 10.8 minutes of game time. Just like his father, first-year Green Archers head coach Louie Gonzalez gave him a word of advice.
“Actually hindi pa talaga ako ganun ka-comportable, before the game sinabihan ako ni coach na, ‘Hindi ako susuko sa iyo. Dahan-dahan natin yan’,’” shared Serrano.
Serrano finally showed that the wait was worth it, as he scored eight of his 11 points to help La Salle fend off the University of the East Red Warriors, 82-72, Sunday evening.
WIth a week-long break, Gonzalez used this to help Serrano gain confidence.
“I told my other guys also, like si Mark Dyke and Encho, that I will take this one, kasi I need to prepare them for the next three games eh,” Gonzalez said. “Next week, we’re have a one-week break pero after that, it’s three games in seven days. So medyo mabigat yung schedule, sabi ko ito na lang yung chance ko para mabigyan ng kumpyansa yung mga players ko.
“So I really took that, it’s just that hindi lang ako naging masaya how we ended.”
“Sabi niya, ‘Basta kuha ka lang ng kumpyansa tiyaka pagpasok mo gusto mo umopensa kaagad, ‘wag mong ilagay yun sa isip mo, unahin mo muna yung depensa hanggang sumunod sa opensa mo’.
“So ngayon pagpasok ko pinakita ko talaga kay coach na hindi ko sasayangin ang opportunity na binigay niya sa akin, dedepensa talaga ako ng one-hundred percent, lumabas naman at sumunod pa ang opensa,” added Serrano.
There will always be pressure surrounding Encho. And it’s because he wants to pave the way for his own destiny.