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Payosing credits Yuri for turning him from raw prospect to Finals MVP

When James Payosing packed his bags and left Davao City to join the prestigious San Beda University, he had no idea how little he knew about basketball.

For most of his basketball career up to that point, Payosing’s freak athleticism, combined with his size advantage, had always been enough to help him succeed over most of his competition.

However, upon joining the most successful collegiate school in the NCAA, he became just one of countless otherworldly athletes and high school standouts, and his athletic prowess was far from enough to keep him afloat.

At some point, his basketball knowledge had to catch up.

Enter head coach Yuri Escueta, a Red Cubs standout in his own right back in the day who quickly saw how Payosing struggled to read the game at the next level.NCAA-99-Finals-MU-vs.-SBU-James-Payosing-2 Payosing credits Yuri for turning him from raw prospect to Finals MVP Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“Ito si Coach, last year takot ako.

“Dumating ako sa Manila, zero ako as analysis sa basketball eh,” joked Payosing.

Instead of giving up on the 6-foot-2 wing, Escueta doubled down on helping Payosing learn the ropes, giving him a role to focus on and grow into.

“Sobrang patient ni Coach sa akin, tinuturuan niya ako lagi ng ganito lang, and then kung ano yung pinapagawa niya sa akin tinatrabaho ko,” Payosing explained.

Escueta and the rest of the San Beda coaching staff molded Payosing into a wing defender tasked with guarding the other team’s best players every night, utilizing his high motor and physical gifts.

A few years down the line, Payosing found himself growing beyond that role, with a finals MVP under his belt to show for it.NCAA-99-Finals-MU-vs.-SBU-James-Payosing Payosing credits Yuri for turning him from raw prospect to Finals MVP Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“Ano lang sobrang unexpected na tinawag yung name ko kasi since nag-start yung season, yung role ko naman defender ng kung sino yung star player sa kabila.

“Hindi ko naman inasahan na magiging Finals MVP and then dumating. Sobrang walang nakakaalam sa hard work na ginawa ko para sa team. Basta manalo lang kami iyon yung gagawin ko para sa kanila,” he said.

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As star guard Jacob Cortez struggled through cramps in game three, Payosing remained a consistent contributor not just on the defensive end but offensively as well, putting pressure on Mapua’s rim protectors as he constantly found his way to the paint and helped San Beda secure the win.

From a naive but promising defender to the finals MVP, Escueta and the rest of his staff’s development for Payosing paid off in the end as they all raised San Beda’s 23rd championship together.

Written By

Vito Martin is a sportswriter from the Philippines. In 2023, he graduated from the Ateneo De Manila University with a degree in BS Psychology. He wrote for Ateneo’s official school publication The GUIDON, where he covered basketball, football, baseball, badminton, and other collegiate sports. He is a life-long fan of the Boston Celtics and an avid follower of the NBA

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