MANILA, Philippines – Following Troy Rike’s one-season stint with National University last year, many teams saw fit to follow in the Bulldogs’ footsteps and enforce the “one-and-done” rule to full effect.
This is the rule where a player is allowed to immediately suit up for a UAAP team without serving the customary one-year residency as long as he already holds a bachelor’s degree and is still within the 25-year-old age limit.
Unlike last season where Rike was the only beneficiary of this rule, a whopping 7 players this year are playing as one-and-dones, and here, the numbers will show if the short-term investment has been working so far.
Even before the season started, many already tagged Rey Suerte as a surefire hit for the languishing UE Red Warriors. As a three-time CESAFI champion, two-time CESAFI MVP and PBA D-League stalwart, Suerte sure has been performing as well as advertised.
In 4 games, Suerte averaged a league-high 22.75 points and recently capped the week with a 31-point eruption in a heart-stopping 89-88 win against La Salle.
This clutch performance earned him the Player of the Week award, besting other standouts like UST’s Soulemane Chabi Yo and Rhenz Abando, Ateneo’s Ange Kouame and UP’s Kobe Paras and reigning UAAP MVP Bright Akhuetie.
Meanwhile, Jed Mendoza, UE’s other one-and-done guard is no slouch, either. The former JRU Heavy Bombers' leading scorer averaged 8.75 points, 3.25 rebounds and 2.5 assists in just 21 minutes of action.
Although Suerte has been UE’s undisputed go-to guy, another one-and-done guard seems to show that being CESAFI MVP is not a guaranteed ticket to success in the UAAP.
Jaybie Mantilla, the Cebu league’s 2017 winner of the individual award, has yet to score in 3 appearances for the UP Fighting Maroons.
However, it’s hard to blame the guy for his lack of production when he’s stuck in a loaded rotation filled with ball-dominant players like Paras, Ricci Rivero, Mythical Five member Juan Gomez de Liaño and team captain Jun Manzo.
If his measly 4:14 minutes average so far with the Maroons is any indication, Mantilla is proof that there’s just not enough room left for stars aboard the UP hype train.
Like fellow guards Suerte and Mendoza, former Enderun College standout Val Chauca is making the most of his lone season with the Adamson Soaring Falcons.
In 4 appearances so far, the Fil-Peruvian guard is leading the Falcons with a 16 points and 3 assists per game on an efficient 44.23% clip from the field and 38.71% from three-point territory.
With NAASCU and PBA D-League experience under his belt, Chauca has quickly risen as the league’s seventh-best scorer for an Adamson side that is sorely missing the efficiency of Mythical Five selection Jerrick Ahanmisi.
Once these two both click from downtown at the same time, it’s hard to see any other team’s backcourt matching up against their sheer talent and firepower.
Speaking of 16, that is also the points per game average of the La Salle Green Archers’ athletic freak Jamie Malonzo.
Already equipped with a reliable three-pointer to the tune of 44.44%, the Seattle-based big man also has enough length to average a league seventh-best 10.5 rebounds per game.
In a league where foreign student-athletes such as Chabi Yo, Akhuetie and Kouame dominate the paint, Malonzo’s willingness to crash the boards along with fellow Pinoy big man Justine Baltazar will prove to be invaluable for the Archers’ Final Four comeback bid down the road.
Malonzo, though, sat out his last game due to a wrist injury and his status remains “day-to-day.”
Will the early success of the league’s one-and-done cast pave the way for more recruits in the coming years? Time will tell, as they all say. – Rappler.com