Tyler Tio draws raves with stellar scoring display but Ateneo rookie plays down impressive debut
Tyler Tio scored the biggest baskets that sparked Ateneo's late pullaway vs UP. Jerome Ascano

TYLER Tio’s debut in an Ateneo jersey was so impressive that long time Blue Eagles assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga had to dig down memory lane when asked on who had a similar debut as their prized recruit.

For all his years in Katipunan, Arespacochaga has seen great Ateneo players come and go in his stint, but he for one can’t remember when the last time a rookie came in and impressed people the way Tio did.

 “Kiefer’s rookie performance was the opposite but he made up for it in the next game,” recalled Arespacochaga of Ravena, who would later on win three MVPs and two championships with the Blue Eagles but went scoreless in his highly anticipated debut.

“Off the top of my head, medyo matagal na ako eh kaya nagkahalo-halo na, but I guess he’s up there,” he added.

While there’s certainly a long way to go for the Fil-Canadian gunner, the proud community of Ateneo must be gushing right now at the thought of Tio continuing to improve after catching fire in their 92-71 win over the University of the Philippines on Wednesday.

Out in their first game due to a left ankle sprain, Tio made quite a splash in his UAAP debut as he scored 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting in just merely 11 minutes of action off the bench.

That killer instinct usually seen on veterans manifested on Tio this early when he drained the backbreaking baskets to put the Fighting Maroons away for good.

Leading by 11, Tio scored 10 straight points which included two cold-blooded three pointers as they took a 70-51 lead and never looked back.

[See Ateneo takes fight out of UP with late blitz to start Season 80 with back-to-back wins]

Later on, the 19-year-old product of Xavier would later describe his performance as merely ‘having fun.’

“It was a lot of fun for me. Thankfully okay ang performance ko,” said Tio. “There’s not really much to say. I was just going with the flow of the game. I got open so I had to take those shots and thankfully it went in.

 “I was very excited to play, but I wasn't thinking coming into the game that I had to score this amount of points,” he added. “I just wanted to make sure that I played correctly, follow coach Tab's system. Thankfully, okay naman ang nangyari.”

That type of mentality earned him raves from Arespacochaga who understands that more than Tio’s offensive outburst, it’s his understanding of how to play within the system which makes him so special.

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“If you interview Tyler, he's part of the team that's why he downplays his performance, but it was a very good performance coming from Tyler. Like he says, he's just doing his job,” Arespacochaga said.  

“That's part of our philosophy, players come in and do their job. It could be that one guy is hot this game, next game another. So we go with the hot hand, and we went with Tyler in that stretch.”

While Tio isn’t promising anything grand, the sweet shooting combo guard vows to just keep working on his craft just in case the time comes that his lethal scoring will be needed again.

“Tough to say, tough to say. I don't wanna say anything. I just wanna try my best and God will take care of the rest.” 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @bassman500