NOT a lot of players could impress coach Tab Baldwin.
But on Monday, little-known Valandre Chauca piqued the interest of the former Gilas Pilipinas coach after his standout showing for Family Mart-Enderun when it took on Cignal-Ateneo in the 2019 PBA D-League.
"Chauca is no. 3? He can score. He played well," remarked the Blue Eagles mentor.
Simple as those compliments may be, that meant the world for the Fil-Peruvian guard.
"It's an honor," Chauca said. "In the Philippines, you get attention for points and scoring. But in our system, I like to play the right way. Even though I'm scoring, it's within the system, it's good basketball. It's not one-on-one. And I know coach Tab, he knows that it's the only way the Philippines can evolve over time. Step-by-step, we're getting better as a country."
Chauca led the Titans in their PBA D-League debut, uncorking 27 points, going 5 for 11 from deep, and making five rebounds and three assists.
But rather than hog the spotlight, Chauca credited the performance to their preparedness as a unit, with coach Pipo Noundou doing his best to put Family Mart-Enderun in a position to compete with some of the best teams in college basketball.
"I think we're pretty well prepared. Obviously, coach and the team watched a lot of films on Ateneo," Chauca said.
The 5-foot-10 guard said that he also did some personal digging, listening to Bald win's guesting in Eric Menk's Staying Major podcast in preparation for this duel.
"I listened to podcast with Tab Baldwin for like three times just to get an insight, what he likes to do," the 24-year-old said with a smile.
Those efforts did pay off with how the Titans performed, but ultimately, Cignal-Ateneo caught on and ran away with the 82-68 victory.
"I thought we could've done a better job," rued Chauca. "We played great in those three quarters. All praise to my teammates, my coaches, everybody. But defensively, we got to be better, in transition defense and turning the ball over. We didn't do that great of a job on those."
Still, Family Mart-Enderun can hold its head high as it has already proven itself capable of competing in the developmental ranks.
And Chauca will certainly be one of those at the forefront.
"I try to be confident every game. Confidence comes from preparation and hardwork, so I just got to keep doing that, stay consistent, and the results will speak for itself," he said.