ANTIPOLO – Even Blackwater head coach Ariel Vanguardia himself was surprised that Ato Ular could actually make shots from beyond the arc.
The rookie out of Letran showed as much in the Bossing’s masterful 107-70 conquest of Terrafirma Saturday night. There, he made two of his three triples in a performance that saw him finish with a team-high 16 points.
“Ato’s a revelation,” said the veteran mentor shortly after the match at the Ynares Center here.
“I didn’t know that he can shoot. Maybe that’s bad scouting on my part. But he had two threes, so that gave us a lift also.”
Revelation is a term that fittingly describes the 27-year-old athletic forward from Tarlac with the way he has been performing thus far in the season.
Ular is actually leading all rookies in scoring with 13.3 points — he’s the only neophyte averaging in double-figures — and 5.3 rebounds while helping Blackwater to its best start in a long while with a 3-1 record.
The smooth transition to the pro ranks, according to the lefty forward, is big thanks to the trust and confidence of Vanguardia and the team.
In fact, his senior, Rashawn McCarthy, screamed “Rookie of the Year!” while Ular was being interviewed by reporters, which the latter only smiled on and brushed off as awards, he said, is something he’s not fond of.
“Ang laki ng tiwala sa akin ni Coach. ‘Yun talaga ‘yung sinusuklian ko lagi,” said UIar, who’s averaging 24 minutes a game. “Work hard dapat ako.”
“Oo, laking bagay sa’kin ‘yung mama ‘yung mga nakakalaban namin,” said the 6-foot-4 cager.
“Talagang pinapa-depensa, opensa. Talagang mapapalaban ka rin sa mga experienced na ex-PBA sa ibang liga.”
Still, Ular isn’t settling whatsoever despite the consistency he’s been showing for Blackwater as he aims to be better in every given opportunity.
“Ako naman, ‘di pa ‘ko nakukuntento sa nilalaro ko. Pinu-push ko lagi ‘yung sarili ko,” he said.
“‘Pag maganda laro ko, dapat mas maganda pa sa susunod. Lagi akong ganon. Hinihigitan ko pa ‘yung magandang laro.”
The second game of each gameday is also live-streamed on SMART Sports.