Evan Nelle was one of the first players whom Green Archers head coach Derrick Pumaren talked with regarding La Salle’s interest in securing the transfer of Mark Nonoy.
Then when news broke yesterday that the lead guard of University of Santo Tomas was moving to La Salle, Nelle — who transferred from San Beda last January — felt more relieved than surprised.
“Honestly, Coach Derrick talked to me when the CJ [Cansino] incident happened. He told me na he will try to recruit Mark Nonoy.
“That is why I wasn’t really that shocked when the news broke out yesterday. I know naman na when La Salle talks to him, he’ll consider it since it’s a good school that has a good basketball program. It’s the best option we had since aalagaan talaga siya ng La Salle, like they do with all of us. Tapos I saw that picture with Coach Franz [Pumaren of Adamson], so I thought na sana he goes to us. Tapos biglang yesterday it popped out. Huge relief,” Nelle shared to Tiebreaker Times.
The potential tandem of Nelle and Nonoy excited the Lasallians, with some even dubbing them as the next The Fast and The Furious. And why not? Both point guards have proven that they are alphas.
Nelle, a 5-foot-10 floor general, commanded the court in his sophomore year in San Beda. He posted norms of 10.2 points, 6.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game to make it to the All-NCAA team.
On the other hand, Nonoy, a 5-foot-8 speedster, dazzled in his rookie year. He averaged 11.11 points, 3.83 rebounds, and 2.78 assists per game to win the Rookie of the Year plum.
Depending on the interpretation of the rules, both Nelle and Nonoy will be eligible to play in UAAP Season 84 and will both have three playing years.
Though they play the same position, the 22-year-old Nelle knows that he and the 20-year-old Nonoy will not be fighting for a spot. With both of them coming off second-place finishes last season, their mission is to lead La Salle to the top of collegiate sport.
“I was excited because I know what he can do to the team having faced him before. Also, Coach Derrick got him e. It’s big if Manong gets you, that means magaling talaga,” said Nelle.
“Personally, I’ve faced him. I know what he is capable of. We are here to help La Salle.”
Currently, the Green Archers are training individually over on Zoom, as schools are still waiting for government clearance for their return to the gym.
And once they do, Nelle is bracing for intense sessions, as everyone will be out to prove they deserve to be a Green Archer.
“Ako, gusto ko na lang mag-practice with him. When there’s a possibility of a bubble na or a training camp, if we get cleared na sa college, I’m excited,” said Nelle.
“It’s not just Mark, because we also have guys like [Kevin] Quiambao, [Jonnel] Policarpio. It’s gonna be competitive because Aljun [Melecio] is still here, Balti [Baltazar] as well, [Kurt] Lojera. Ma-pride kaming lahat e. Ayaw naming magpatalo. We can’t wait to work together and pick off something from each other.”
In particular, both Nelle and Nonoy need to put in hard work in the gym.
As talented as they are, they will go through a murderer’s row of backcourts. Ateneo has SJ Belangel and Dave Ildefonso; UP will showcase CJ Cansino and possibly Juan Gomez de Liaño; and FEU boasts L-Jay Gonzales and RJ Abarrientos.
“Nung nakita ko ‘yung mga post na naka-jersey na si Mark, first thing that came to my mind was who will we face? There’s SJ and Dave, tapos LJ and RJ. Grabe! It’s going to be really, really fun.
“Pinaka-exciting siguro na UAAP season ‘to. It’s gonna be fun and Manong likes combo guard lineups,” quipped Nelle.
Connection is key to whether the Nelle-Nonoy combination will flourish.
Once the Nonoy transfer becomes official, he better expect Nelle will be the first person to call him.
The two already have a good start, though. Just like Nelle and James Canlas’ Bandana Bros, they have a monicker already despite not having spent a second on the floor.
“It feels good na may nickname na kami kahit hindi pa kami nagsisimula. It’s gonna be exciting.”