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Gelo Vito proves that hard work pays off

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The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons are trying to shed the image of being the cellar-dwellers from years past.

With the UP faithful clamoring for a men’s basketball team that fights tooth and nail day-in and day-out, team manager Dan Palami has built a team with great leaders as coaches and willing learners as players. In their debut game for the 78th Season of the UAAP, the Fighting Maroons were able to stave-off rust and a gritty UE Red Warriors squad, 62-55.

Gelo Vito, known for his post game, was able to convert on three straight three-pointers that gave the Fighting Maroons a 13-point cushion, 56-43, with 4:37 to go. The third-year Sports Science major credits this performance to years of hard work he has put in the gym and on the courts.

Vito was on the sidelines for the majority of his first year with the Diliman squad. “Well, during my first year the main focus talaga was for me to recover from my ACL injury,” he told Tiebreaker Times. He added that, “I’m trying to gain back my confidence and getting stronger, better. Kaya okay lang sa akin to sit out my first year.”

During his second year, Vito knew that he was going to have to make an impact every time he steps on the floor knowing that he has to make the most of the limited minutes he was given. “Last year, my main role was to anchor the defense and to be aggressive all the time. Pag pinasok ready lang,” he recalled. Vito averaged just 3.3 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 19.9 minutes of action last season.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Gelo Vito proves that hard work pays off

Gelo Vito had 11 markers during their game against UE. He had 11 markers on 4/5 shooting, 3/3 from downtown, in 11 minutes of action

In an interview with UP team manager Dan Palami last summer, he told Tiebreaker Times that he wanted players who are willing to learn. “What we want to build is a team of players who are willing to learn and are coachable. That’s how we want our team to be,” Mr. Palami said. Vito, still a student of the game, remembered asking Coach Joe Ward during the off-season of what he needs to add to his game for the sake of the team. “During the off-season, I was working with coach Joe [Ward] and they wanted me to shoot outside para ma-stretch yung defense and para mas maging open yung loob. So yun yung dinevelop ko nung off-season yung midrange and yung long three-point shots,” Vito disclosed.

This was something new for the 6’5 center. “I played center back when I was in [La Salle] GH. I usually play inside talaga. Yun yung main game ko,” he said about his inside game. Despite this, he knew that he needed to add a new dimension to his game to help the Fighting Maroons, even in the smallest way possible. “Ang nangyayari kasi nagiging open ako from the outside. So the defense will expect me to go hard to the basket pero, yun nga, talagang kinailangan ko to develop my long-range shots.”

For the UP Fighting Maroons, the team needs all the contribution they can get from all of its player. With members like Gelo Vito working hard on their game, it is surely a welcome help in the squad’s Final Four aspirations.

Vito, Mark Juruena, Cheick Kone and the UP Fighting Maroons are set to test their mettle against the formidable Green Archer frontline on Wednesday, September 9 at 2:00pm at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

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