Big men from the high school ranks that stand at 6’3″ or 6’4″ have always had a hard time transitioning into the collegiate game. For every Prince Rivero or Nico Salva, there is a Mike Nieto or a Woody Co that had to veer away from their position in secondary school to adjust to the tertiary game.
Third year Far Eastern University Tamaraw Richard Escoto stands at 6’4″ but is framed like a tank, weighing in at 200 pounds. The former Batang Gilas standout is tasked to defend the giants of the league who are at least three to five inches taller than him. Two games into the season, the 19-year-old has received praise for his fearless approach to the game.
“Sila Raymar Jose, Richard Escoto, and Barkley Ebonia did really good against Ben Mbala in the first game,” FEU head coach Nash Racela remarked. “Today, they were able to play defense against Adamson.”
After playing a total of just 136 minutes in his first two seasons with FEU, Escoto is now playing a bigger role, averaging 17.3 minutes with a statline of 7.5 points and 5 boards in the first two games of the season. Moreover, he has had to guard foreign student-athletes Mbala and Papi Sarr in those two games.
“May goal ako: kailangan ko pang mag improve para makatulong sa team,” shared Richard, who is the younger brother of now-Gilas Pilipinas big man Russel Escoto.
“Gusto ko i-continue yung ginawa ng brother ko last year.”
The FEU junior then admitted that his stint with Batang Gilas helped him learn the tricks needed to guard centers that are way taller and heftier than him.
“Sobrang laking tulong ng experience ko sa Batang Gilas,” he reflected.
“Ang lalaki ng nababantayan ko. Nung’ nag-FIBA World kami sa U-17, nakalaban namin US, malalaki talaga.
“Natutunan ko dun kung paano magbantay ng mga big man,” he added.
However, the physicality of banging bodies, fighting in scrums, and posting up takes its toll on the body. With 1:24 left in the game between the Tamaraws and the Soaring Falcons, Escoto landed awkwardly after being fouled by Filipino-American big man Sean Manganti and hip checked by Sarr. The 19-year-old crumpled in pain and had to be brought out of the game afterwards.
“Hindi ko napansin [yung nangyari],” he shared. “Oobserbahan pa muna. Sa left hip yung masakit, sobrang sakit.”
But with Nash Racela and the Tamaraws needing him in every game this season, Escoto, being the fighter that he is, looks to play through the pain for the sake of the team.