MANILA, Philippines – Leave it to the San Beda Red Lions to never run out of talent within their roster.
Even now as they're reeling from the simultaneous exits of their biggest stars Javee Mocon and Robert Bolick, incoming sophomore point guard Evan Nelle already looks ready to fill the void.
And no less than UAAP champion Ateneo Blue Eagles fell victim to Nelle's breakout game, losing 43-49 in Game 1 of the PCCL President's Cup semifinals last Monday, January 21.
Behind tested veteran Donald Tankoua's 18 points, Nelle dropped 12 markers on 3/4 (75%) shooting from downtown with 2 steals to boot. And much like his predecessors, the youngster deflected credit to the champion-level system of Coach Boyet Fernandez.
"It's a great experience because without [Javee and Robert], we had to step up," he said after the game. "We prepared for this moment. Credit to Coach Boyet and to my teammates. We really wanted to win."
"Saya! Nakaka-miss maglaro especially first game namin ito since the NCAA," he continued. "Two weeks pa lang kami nakakabalik."
(It's fun! I really missed playing since it's our first game since the NCAA. We've only been back two weeks ago.)
Already an NCAA champion in his rookie season, Nelle said he has been ready to take over since then.
"There's no pressure because I like stepping up. No pressure at all," he declared.
Such confidence enamored the former Red Cub to the multi-titled Coach Fernandez, who already told Nelle that San Beda is "his team" moving forward.
"We have teamwork. It's no longer just Javee and Robert. It's really a group effort now. We have to help each other, lift each other, and complement each other so we can get that four-peat."
San Beda is now one win away on Thursday, January 24, from facing CESAFI champion University of the Visayas Green Lancers in the PCCL knockout finals. – Rappler.com