Out of the 19,204 people inside the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday afternoon, there was one familiar face in the crowd. All-time Perpetual Help great Scottie Thompson was sitting in the audience to cheer on the Altas.
And the former NCAA Most Valuable Player saw the Altas put up a gallant stand against powerhouse squad San Beda Red Lions.
“Nakikita ko sa kanila na positive na positive sila, lalo na’t nakikita kong low-scoring game, focus sila sa defense,” Thompson shared.
“Parang nakikita ko na maganda ang season namin ngayon.”
The Altas are coming off a disappointing 4-14 campaign a season ago, having missed the Final Four after making it to the semifinals back in Season 92.
To instill discipline in the team, the Perpetual Help brass tapped decorated mentor Frankie Lim to steer the wheel. And the hiring has brought renewed hope for the hungry Perpetualites – including Thompson.
“’Yun ang pinaka-kailangan ng Perpetual, ‘yung new coach na nakakapagdala ng winning tradition. Malaking bagay yung winning tradition ni coach Frankie Lim – sana madala ng Perps,” the 24-year-old pointed out.
The renewed vigor of the Altas showed during the season-opener, as Perpetual kept close to the defending champions all throughout the game. However, the experience of the Red Lions proved to be the difference, as they escaped with a 67-65 win.
Still, no one can take away the brave stand that the Altas put up. And Thompson vows to help out Lim in mentoring the young upstarts.
“Yung kinakausap ko lang dyan yung mga veterans,” said Thompson, who is now a three-year pro. “Sinasabi ko lang sa kanila na kailangan nila i-lead yung mga bagong players ngayon para maging successful yung team. Si [Keith] Pido injured eh. So si [AJ] Coronel, si Prince [Eze], tsaka si [Rommel] Mangalino.”