Competing in the UAAP may be a daunting prospect for most neophytes in the league.
The scrutiny from the fans, the media mileage, and the pressure to win can either make an athlete or break them into obscurity.
But one player who performed as if the bright lights of the SMART Araneta Coliseum didn’t faze him was DLSU’s Jamie Malonzo. The recruit announced himself to college basketball’s biggest rivalry in the most incredible way possible.
Just roughly four minutes into his debut in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament against defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, the Portland State University alumnus received the ball from a teammate. He then dunked on Thirdy Ravena and made sure to let the Season 81 Finals MVP know what just happened.
“Very emotional, you know — the fans and stuff probably got into my head.
“A lot of the, you know… Very emotional play. I sort of let the emotions get the best of me, but it’s just the game of basketball in itself, and good play,” he explained.
Naturally, his stunt caught the ire of the Ateneo gallery in the stadium, which he did not mind at all.
“It’s basketball. Stuff’s gonna happen like that. I’ll try and not think about it too much,” said the Seattle native.
That sequence of play was the highlight of La Salle’s afternoon, since the Green Archers ended up on the losing side in a 69-81 result. In 27:41 minutes of action, the forward contributed with 18 points and 10 rebounds in his first game in the UAAP. While the result may not have been kind, he only had nice things to say after the game.
“It felt great. Coming back to the Philippines, I wanted to make a name for myself and put on [a show] for the Philippines.
“Having everybody behind my back, it’s a good feeling. That’s why I came,” said Malonzo.
While he enjoyed every moment of his debut, he understood that he had a lot to adjust to playing in his mother’s homeland.
“(It was a) very physical game. A lot of the fouls are different. A lot of the calls are different. But it’s all good,” said Malonzo.
Now that everything was said and done, Malonzo and the rest of the Green Archers hope to bounce back against the NU Bulldogs, who also lost in their first game of the season in dramatic circumstances. And for him, it’s all about just figuring things out and staying positive.
“Opening up with the best team in the league probably is always going to be a challenge but I think we have a lot of improvements we have to work on. And I think it will be good said and done when it comes to time.”