After a stellar five-year run in Ateneo, many see Isaac Go as a top three pick in the upcoming 2019 PBA Rookie Draft.
But that was not the case five years ago when he first arrived to Katipunan.
Though standing at 6-foot-8 back then, Go packed a lot of excess weight by basketball standards. At the peak, he reached 250-pounds.
Despite this, Tab Baldwin —who became head coach of the Blue Eagles back in 2016 — knew that Go’s gift would lead Ateneo to new heights. What was that gift?
His uncanny basketball wit.
“George is a guy that I didn’t expect a lot from George from the beginning, but I knew he was intelligent,” Baldwin asserted.
With the mental aspect already natural in him, Go then worked on his physical.
Who could forget the “no rice” diet he was put on by Baldwin three years ago? Then there were the nightmare conditioning drills the American-Kiwi tactician put the entire team through to match the likes of Ben Mbala and Bright Akhuetie.
Go endured all of those and gladly, earning the respect of the entire team.
“What he has in terms of the context of our team, he has respect from everybody, including all the coaches, for [being] a person who gives everything he has to give, and we want more.
“We want more athleticism, we want more speed, we want more quickness. And he tries, he gives everything he’s got,” Baldwin continued.
Besides his role as one of the Ateneo’s leaders, he was also their calm amid every storm they endured.
On the court, there were his clutch shots during Season 80 that knocked off both FEU and La Salle. Off the court, Go would be the one gathering the troops, reminding them to keep their poise at all times.
“The one thing he gives that we all depend on a bit is that intellect, that basketball IQ. And that calm under pressure. He’s been that for us for forever.”
Everyone knows that basketball will not be the be-all and end-all for Go. But whatever he does outside of Ateneo, Baldwin is confident that Go will do it better than everyone else.
“George may be building the biggest something of whatever there is to build in the world, probably better than anybody else can build it.”