CEBU CITY – With most of its championship-winning core gone, the University of San Carlos Warriors found themselves in dire need of a new leader.
They found an unlikely one in Kevin Peter Oleodo.
Thanks to breaks given him by new head coach Rommel Rasmo, Oleodo has turned from benchwarmer into the leading scorer in USC's title defense in the Cesafi baskesball tournament.
For Rasmo, Oleodo’s offensive talent was never in question. In fact, it was the first thing that the incumbent assistant coaches told him when he first took over the team back in June.
“When I came on board, I asked around and the coaches told me that (Kevin) Oleodo’s shooting skill was just inborn. This player was born with the ability to take and make shots,” shared Rasmo, who also serves as head coach of high school powerhouse Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu.
Oleodo has not disappointed since getting inserted into the rotation three games into the season.
Getting the green light to shoot, the burly bomber has averaged 14.85 points, making four three pointers each game. And in the last three games of USC, two of which have been victories, Oleodo has been scorching hot, norming 20 points per game.
But more than Oleodo's improved offense, Rasmo is more impressed with his ward’s newfound commitment to defense.
“I told him that he has to play defense. He can’t just be placed into the game to take three-pointers. We’re a defensive team and we’re trying to build a defensive identity and it’s important for him to have those types of skills,” said Rasmo.
"And I have to give him credit. He has responded well. He has slimmed down and he has improved on that side of the floor."
With the Warriors clinging on to fourth place and the last ticket to the semifinal round, Oleodo will be counted on to deliver alongside the rookies who Rasmo has relied on more and more this season, namely Jules Langres and Conrad Catapusan.
“Jules (Langres) is steadily getting his rhythm and (Conrad) Catapusan has been solid for us all season.”