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Jacob Bayla promises big things for UP after highlight dunk in Filoil debut

Fresh from the airport last Thursday, Jacob Bayla immediately showed some love to his future college team by going straight to University of the Philippines’ game against Far Eastern University.

Two days later, despite still acclimating to the country, the former Batang Gilas standout was fielded in the Fighting Maroons’ game against none other than their cross-street rivals, the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

“This is my first time playing with the guys and getting to know them. I feel good; they are very welcoming and accommodating. I love my teammates and hope to continue making more memories and building relationships with them,” Bayla said.

Given the talent of the NBTC champion, it was just a matter of clicking well with the team despite being in-game for the first time – a trust the young player embraced.

“I appreciate Coach Gold (Monteverde) and the entire coaching staff for believing in me. I just arrived, but they trusted me to step up and do my thing. So, I told myself to work hard and play hard because they see what I can give,” said the rookie fresh out of high school.

Bayla did just that, repaying the opportunity with a solid debut.

“I was very happy and excited. I love the UP crowd, I love everything about UP,” he said.

With the Fighting Maroons leading by just four points, 72-68, midway into the final period, the honor graduate from Valley Christian Schools intercepted a pass intended for Mason Amos.

He then found a clear path to the basket for a dunk – followed by a huge roar from the UP-dominated crowd.

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FILOIL-JACOB-BAYLA-1323 Jacob Bayla promises big things for UP after highlight dunk in Filoil debut Basketball News UP  - philippine sports news

“I think Mason was coming down with the left hand, and I got it from him. I had an open lane and then I slammed it. I wanted to make a statement to the crowd that I’m here and we’re going to do big things,” recalled the 18-year-old winger.

“It was momentum-changing for sure. That is what hypes me up, and moving forward, I hope to continue doing that kind of stuff.”

Now that the first-game jitters are out of the way and with proper training with the squad in place, Bayla hopes to mesh better with the UAAP Season 86 runners-up and next season’s hosts.

“I hope to continue doing the things I did in this game and translate that into the next game. I hope I can be consistent,” said Bayla.

“You can expect that I’m going to work hard, whether it is offensively or defensively. I will show my effort and my attitude, being there for my teammates, being a good teammate, and being selfless.”

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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