THE prodigal son has finally come home.
Cebuano guard Mark Jayven Tallo, once hailed as one the country’s top collegiate prospects, hopes to find redemption in his hometown after joining reigning Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) champions Southwestern University (SWU).
The son of former PBA player Mark Tallo joined the Cobras’ training camp almost a month ago after an uneventful stint with both La Salle and reigning five-time UAAP champion Ateneo in Manila, SWU coach Raul `Yayoy’ Alcoseba confirmed to Spin.ph.
“Mac (Tallo) is the future of the Cobras’ backcourt especially since he will be eligible to play for four more years here,” said Alcoseba, back at the coaching helm of SWU after stepping down in the run-up to last month's elections.
For Tallo, the transfer means a fresh start to a collegiate career that has seen his stock drop after being hailed as a rising star when he led the upstart Cebu Institute of Technology-University Wildkittens to the Cesafi juniors title in 2009.
His heroics attracted a lot of interest from schools on the 6-foot guard, who eventually chose powerhouse Ateneo.
But in a baffling move, Tallo left the Katipunan-based school and transferred to archrival La Salle and suited up for the Green Archers in 10 games last season.
With La Salle's backcourt hit by injuries last year, Tallo got significant playing time with the Archers and logged 11 minutes per game, but averaged a measly 1.3 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists.
But with the Cobras acquiring his playing rights, Tallo is expected to shore up a SWU backcourt that has been ravaged by both injuries and the graduation of several key players.
Gone from the Cobras are reserve guard Junrey Ortuyo, who played his final year of eligibility last season, and starting guard Joseph Nalos, who chose to transfer to Adamson.
SWU starting wingman Bon Guillena will likewise sit out this season due to an injury, while new recruit NJ Otida from University of San Carlos balked at the chance to suit up for the Cobras and chose to forego his final year of eligibility.
Alcoseba nonetheless is thrilled to have a pure point guard like Tallo.
“This is the first time that we’ve really had a pure point guard who looks to distribute the ball rather than shoot first,” added Alcoseba of Tallo’s acquisition.
Aside from Tallo, the Cobras have several key additions to their backcourt in former Jose Rizal University stalwart Rommel Diapera, former Ateneo Team B member Kiefer Lim, along with Fil-Canadian Adam Mohammed, and former USC aces Jabby Bautista and Mark Panerio.
The retooled roster of SWU will be in full display on Friday during the Mayor Michael Rama Collegiate Invitational basketball tournament where it goes up against the likes of Far Eastern University, Mapua, and bitter rival University of the Visayas, which replaced Lyceum.
Venue of the tournament is the Cebu Coliseum.