Story by Justin Valencia
Chris Bitoon never expected to be a contributor with the star-studded Manila-Frontrow team when he first joined the squad two years ago.
With the likes of Roger Yap, Marcy Arellano, Jeric Fortuna, Marvin Lee, and Jollo Go, the standout from Manuel L. Quezon University saw himself at the back of the line.
“Expected ko talaga hindi ako magagamit eh, so parang thankful na lang din ako na nakapasok ako sa lineup na ‘yun kasi star-studded talaga eh,” the 5-foot-8 Bitoon shared during The CPT Crossover Podcast, presented by SMART Sports and supported by LGR Sportswear.
But Bitoon worked his way into the rotation of then-Stars head coach Philip Cezar, practicing well to get his confidence going.
Slowly, he was able to carve his own niche in Manila.
“Nagsimula ako sa practice. Doon ko kinuha ‘yung kumpyansa ko kasi first game namin, Bataan kalaban. Siguro mga three minutes lang ako ginamit the whole game. Pero okay lang sa akin, babawi ako.
“Practice ako nang practice, tapos maganda naman ‘yung pinapakita ko eh, kaya siguro si Coach Philip nakita kahit papaano na baka puwede ‘to,” he continued.
The very next game after their season debut — where he only got three minutes of playing time — Bitoon exploded against Makati, although they lost a tight 99-98 affair.
He tallied a team-high 24 points, including a 7-for-7 shooting in the first half.
“Doon nag-start talagang nakuha ko ‘yung kumpyansa ko at ni Coach Philip.”
In his second season, Bitoon went on to average 12.5 points, 5.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 34 games during the Chooks-to-Go Lakan Cup.
That’s when Bitoon decided to make the jump to the PBA.
Definitely, all his hard work paid off, as the Black Water took him with the second pick in the third round of the 2019 PBA Draft.
Now he has to work his way up again and prove everyone wrong once again.