IF Joe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant is to be believed, Filipino guard Froilan Baguion had the skills to reach the NBA.
In an interview that appeared on the Asean Basketball League website, the father of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant said the former National University guard had what it takes to make it to the NBA had his skills been developed early.
“I will tell you, I wish I could have seen him when he was 18 years old,” said Bryant in the ABL interview. “I would have pushed him to go to the NBA.
“He has the kind of skills of Chris Paul and Steve Nash. He has great leadership skills in him and has made my job a lot easier,” said Bryant.
Baguion, 32, helped the NU Bulldogs reach the UAAP Final Four in 2001 and later bounced around in the PBA, suiting up for Welcoat, Coca-Cola and San Miguel before finding his niche in ABL's regional league.
In his first year with the Slammers, Baguion averaged a league-high 9.94 assists to go along with his 10.81 points per game. He also posted a rare triple double last April 5 when he tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists against the Saigon Heat.
Bryant, who had also played in the NBA notably with the Julius Erving-led Philadelphia 76ers in the 1970s, said he considers himself very fortunate to have signed Baguion after the Filipino guard played for the San Miguel Beermen last season.
“Sometimes as a coach you have to stand up offensively and tell your player to do this and do that. But Froilan has a great feel for the game and communicates with all the players so it really makes the job easier on offense. We are very lucky to have him,” said Bryant.
Baguion’s presence could be key as the Slammers are in fourth spot with a 6-10 win-loss card. The top four finishers in the eliminations will advance to the semifinals.