Out of Ateneo’s five graduating seniors, Mike Nieto will not stand out.
Thirdy Ravena’s game is the flashiest out of the quintet.
Mike’s brother Matt is the most fearless of the bunch.
Isaac Go will literally pop out by his sheer size alone. And let’s not forget his tough-nosed game to boot.
Adrian Wong is easily noticeable since his gear only runs on fifth all the time and on both ends of the court.
But out of the five, Mike will be the hardest to ignore as his voice resonates the loudest.
His averages of 4.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists are just that — numbers. What he brings to the game, as cliche as it sounds, is intangible. He can command every single Blue Eagle with just one order while bringing fear to his opponents despite his 6-foot-2 stature.
“Mike is probably a natural leader,” opined fourth-year Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin. “Mike is a communicator, Mike is a thinker.”
Despite his low numbers, Nieto will easily find a job in the PBA. Firstly because he is a proven winner, and secondly, because he is a fighter.
But for Baldwin, the Ateneo lifer is destined for far greater things.
“Look at all of us up here and think about where we’re gonna be ten or fifteen years, you’ll forget most of us but you won’t forget Mike Nieto. He will make a mark on this world that the rest of us may try to do in sport.”
By that, he means a world beyond the world of athletics.
“But in terms of touching people, making lives better, giving of himself, and making sure that everybody around him has a better chance than what he has, that’s our captain. And he makes our coaching staff better.”
Perhaps Baldwin sees Mike following his dad’s footsteps as a politician. Or Mike could also be an excellent motivational speaker as well. Or a goodwill ambassador or a professor?
Or maybe he sees Mike as the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ head coach down the line.