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SLAM Rising Stars Classic: Five things we learned



Team Punks used a furious rally in the third quarter to defeat Team Hype, 103-95 Sunday night in the 2015 SLAM Rising Stars Classic at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong.

Coached by De La Salle-Zobel’s Gian Nazario, Team Punks leaned on a fast-paced third frame anchored on aggressiveness to beat their counterparts.

JV Gallego of Chiang Kai Shek College spearheaded Team Punks’ onslaught and finished with an all-around game of 18 points on eight-for-12 shooting, four rebounds, and three assists. Reigning UAAP Juniors Finals MVP Jolo Mendoza of Ateneo de Manila University added 16 points, making all of his eight free throw attempts.

For Ateneo de Manila juniors head coach Joe Silva’s Team Hype, De La Salle University-commit Andrei Caracut had 19 points, four rebounds, and two assists while National University big Mark Dyke had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Although the sample is obviously small and it is an all-star game, here are five things we learned about the annual showcase of the best high school cagers in the country.

Andrei Caracut is your take-charge guyTiebreaker Times SLAM Rising Stars Classic: Five things we learned

The San Beda Red Cub showcased an all-around performance offensively to lead Team Hype. He hit a triple off the screen, moving from right to left before pulling up. In another play, he beat his defender off the dribble from top of the key, driving and pulling up for an elbow jumper. In one of Hype’s fastbreak attempts, Caracut ran full-speed from coast to coast, gathered the ball with his left hand, before finishing with a right-handed floater inside.

Caracut felt that with current De La Salle Green Archers Thomas Torres and Kib Montalbo leaving in two to three years time, he will have a chance to impress people; he already has a polished game and he can be the guy to score and take over for La Salle.

JV Gallego is your complete packageTiebreaker Times SLAM Rising Stars Classic: Five things we learned

If Caracut is the take-charge guy, Gallego is the complete package. He can hit from the outside or take it strong to the hole. He possesses upper body strength to finish against bigger opponents and his unselfishness is also a step above the rest. He can be a facilitator for his future team while also being a scorer.

Punks relied on his leadership in the third quarter to erase a double-digit deficit and eventually win the game. Gallego was named co-Most Valuable Player along with this next guy:

Jboy Gob may become one of the best inside operators we haveTiebreaker Times SLAM Rising Stars Classic: Five things we learned

The La Salle Greenhills beanpole had 16 points on just seven shots and added seven boards in the win, showing a glimpse of how effective he was underneath.

Gob uses his size and footwork in the post to evade the defense and finish with high-percentage shots. There’s this one play where he backed down his defender then drop-stepped to his right for the layup.

Gob also hit all of his six free throw attempts, which is always a welcome sight for a big man. The next thing he should learn is how to operate from a face-up position; if he can work on his jumpers, then he would be an even more dangerous big man.

A lot of work needed for Mark DykeTiebreaker Times SLAM Rising Stars Classic: Five things we learned

National University standout Mark Dyke is one of the strongest forwards in juniors basketball. He uses that power to carve out some space and hit baskets. On defense, he is a workhorse too when it comes to crashing the boards.

However, he tends to get ahead of himself sometimes, as seen evidently in the all-star game. Dyke tried to force his way against double and triple-teams with power dribbles, but he would oftentimes end up turning it over or hoisting a forced shot.

Dyke was 3-out-10 from the field last Sunday, so he must work his way around the post using footwork and off-ball movement. Harvey Carey is one player who can be effective without having to demand possession. Perhaps if Dyke uses various types of basketball cuts, he will be better offensively.

Hitting big shots nothing new for Jolo MendozaTiebreaker Times SLAM Rising Stars Classic: Five things we learned

Not much explanation needed here. He can go 0-for-20 and still hit the winning shot, because when a team needs buckets, Mendoza needs only a little space to launch a dagger.

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