17 Sep President Jon Cartu States: EYES ON YOU, KID: NCAA 95 Jrs. players to watch
(Photo by Josh Albelda)
The first round of the NCAA 95 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with.
And with the second round already underway, we’re getting even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players:
MAC GUADANA – Lyceum of the Philippines University
ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 18.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.1 steals
LPU is on the brink of its first playoff appearance in school history – and throughout its quest to do just that, Mac Guadana has been its constant.
For a long time, the 6-foot playmaker has stood as the pillar for the Jr. Pirates, but now, he has taken the leap all the way up there as one of the best players in all of high school.
The former Batang Gilas guard has been stuffing the stat sheet and is tops in steals, fourth in scoring, and fifth in assists in the league. Without a doubt, he can and he is doing it all in his fifth and final year in maroon and grey.
Most importantly, LPU has only followed his lead all the way to a place well inside the playoff picture.
Of course, it remains to be seen if the Jr. Pirates can continue their sail to treasure island. What’s certain, though, is that their 18-year-old homegrown star will keep giving his all for them.
RHAYYAN AMSALI – San Beda High School
ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.7 steals
For four years running now, Rhayyan Amsali has been one of the most promising prospects in the Jrs.
Now in his last year in high school, he has only brought over all the confidence and capabilities he had honed in National U all the way to San Beda.
Now donning red and white, the 6-foot-3 forward has unleashed a more well-rounded game as he is actually the league’s best playmaker while at the same time, its third-best pilferer and fifth-best scorer.
And if not for a controversial suspension, he would have also been the frontrunner for MVP as he has been a key cog for the league-leading Red Cubs.
Still, what matters most for the now 19-year-old is another championship – and at the end of it all, he may very well be in select company of players who have won two titles in two different high schools in two different leagues.
JONNEL POLICARPIO – Mapua High School
ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.1 points, 10.6 rebound, 2.6 assists, 1.3 blocks
The biggest reason Mapua has found itself in the bottom third of the standings is the inconsistency of main man Jonnel Policarpio.
From missing the first three games due to personal problems to getting irregular playing time due to mental lapses, the 6-foot-4 energizer has only proven he has got much room for improvement when it comes to intangibles.
Still, whenever he’s on the floor, Policarpio has always made his presence felt and that is very much evident with him being the MVP leader even after only playing seven games.
However, the league’s top rebounder needs to prove he can stay on the court and lead his team to victory if he wants to have a hold of that top individual trophy and, more importantly, extend his team’s title reign.
JUSTINE SANCHEZ – San Beda High School
ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.5 points, 62.8 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds
Justine Sanchez is turning in a career year in his last year for San Beda.
From coming off the bench a year ago to claiming a starting spot for himself, the long-limbed forward is on pace to be hailed as the league’s Most Improved Player.
All the proof he needs for that is already there as he is an automatic finisher of set-ups by his teammates, with an astounding 62.8 shooting clip from the field. At the same time, though, he has also shown flashes of shooting and playmaking – showing that even the favorite for Most Improved Player looks like he can still keep growing.
JOHN BARBA – Lyceum of the Philippines University
ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists
Mac Guadana does it all, but if and when LPU needs a basket badly, it turns to John Barba.
A fearless slasher that boasts of one of the best – if not the best – upper body strengths, the 6-foot-2 swingman can score however he wants once he gets to the paint. That is exactly why he is the league’s second-best scorer.
Of course, Barba has to work on his shooting, but as of right now, that hole in his game is only offset by his energy and activity that allow him to haul in offensive rebounds and make good on second chance points.
TONY YNOT – San Beda High School
ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 10.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals
Tony Ynot missed San Beda’s first five games due to a knee injury, but once he was good to go, he did nothing but make an immediate impact.
A defensive specialist who made noise in the preseason with a poster block on Jalen Green, the Filipino-American blue-chip recruit in the US NCAA, he is only proving to be more of a two-way force now in his second season in red and white.
The 5-foot-11 wing now has the confidence to let it fly from deep or venture inside the paint for a closer look, but when it all boils down to it, defense is and will always be his calling card.
RC CALIMAG – College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills
ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 20.7 points, 23-of-60 from three, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals
RC Calimag has always been in love with the midrange shot in his time in DLSZ and now in his second season in LSGH.
The 6-foot-2 forward knocks those down at a respectable rate, but his transition into taking more threes this year has unlocked his entire offensive arsenal.
Calimag is the league’s top scorer, with a bulk of his output coming from deep where he has hit 23 in total. Without a doubt, he has always been a deadly scorer, but with his outside shot now a legitimate threat, he has become an elite offensive player.
JOSHUA RAMIREZ – Colegio de San Juan de Letran
ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 15.1 points, 29-of-90 from three, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Joshua Ramirez’s game will not blow anybody away at all as he is yet to have a skill that will put him above everybody else.
What the 6-foot-3 forward is, however, is an all-around player who will do whatever it takes to help out his team – if Letran needs points, he will be there; if Letran needs playmaking, he will be there; if Letran needs defense, he will be there. No doubt about it, he is the quintessential glue guy that any other team will want to have on their side.
EMMAN GALMAN – University of Perpetual Help
ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 19.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 steals
One word perfectly encapsulates Emman Galman – gunner.
The 6-foot-2 swingman is a volume shooter who has the greenest of green lights to take shots for Perpetual. That’s not a bad thing at all, though, because he actually makes good on many of those and finds himself as the third-best scorer in all of the league.
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