CHICAGO -- Adamson University point guard Jerom Lastimosa is sizzling hot, manufacturing one heroic effort after another in the ongoing UAAP Season 85.
And even from 1,833 miles afar, the Japan B.League is seeing the afterglow of the 5-foot-10 spark plug.
An international agent informed me the other day that a Division 2 squad is willing to pay at least $7,000 a month for Lastimosa to take his talents to the Land of the Rising Sun.
As in the case with other Asian imports, his next contract, assuming Jerom meets expectations, could net him up to $20,000 monthly. It's the same contractual path that the Ravena brothers -- Kiefer and Thirdy --, Dwight Ramos and Ray Parks navigated.
"I'm not surprised. We've been hearing of those floating offers since last year," Adamson coach Nash Racela told me during a telephone interview after the Soaring Falcons preyed on NU last night on the strength of Jerom's game-winning triple, 64-63.
The knocks on Lastimosa's doors will never go away. It will only grow louder.
But coach Racela, trusting the loyalty his prized gem from Dumaguete City had shown to Adamson since 2017, isn't losing sleep over those overseas suitors.
Ultimately, though, he admits that "it's Jerom's decision to make."
No formal offer will be tendered until after the culmination of Season 85. Which means there's at least a few more opportunities for Lastimosa to carry the Falcons on the wings on his resolve.
It starts on Wednesday when Adamson takes on the dynastic Blue Eagles. A win over Ateneo gives Lastimosa and company an outright entry to the Final Four.
A loss, however, guarantees the Falcons (7-6) a knockout match for the last ticket to the big dance against the La Salle Green Archers (6-7), who are expected to cruise past their last assignment on Wednesday against the dumpster fire that is UST, losers of 12 straight.
THE ATTENTION AND AFFECTION TRAINED AT JEROM LASTIMOSA IS NOT HARD TO UNDERSTAND.
At age 24, he has the basketball IQ of a 30-year old veteran. He might not be the complete package at a shade under six feet tall, but he is a unique specimen.
He is fast like Jayson Castro once was, and he has the guts of an L.A. Tenorio, unafraid to take the shot when the game is on the line. More importantly, Jerom has the toughness of a Robert Jaworski.
Last November 5, he was believed to have sustained a dislocated right foot and ruled out for the remainder of the season. Just 15 days later, he logged 32 seconds off the bench and sank a pair of pressure-packed free throws to help Adamson hold off UE, 74-64.
And then last night, with the weight of Adamson's destiny on his broad shoulders, Jerom's dagger 3 in the final 5.5 seconds of action lifted the school to a soaring one-point win.
Although he only had a modest nine points in his last two outings, Jerom was averaging 17 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game before he got hurt.
I was supposed to talk to Jerom, an interview session arranged by his team last night.
But he couldn't be reached as of posting time.
Apparently, Jerom Lastimosa, with the UAAP on his fingertips, is somewhere up, up there.
On cloud nine.
SCHONNY WINSTON IS THE MVP. Before a calf injury sidelined him, Schonny Winston was leading the MVP race by a mile with astounding averages of 21.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3 steals per game.
Sadly, the Green Archer from La Salle might not win the coveted plum because of a quirk in the award's criteria, which allows candidates to collect "bonus and impact points."
Because Schonny sat out a few games and had played sparingly of late, he is missing out on those juicy points that would have solidified his candidacy.
Rules are rules but the arbitrary nature of "bonus and impact points" put worthy candidates such as Winston at a disadvantage.
Injuries are part of the game, but players shouldn't be punished for it as long as they meet the threshold of the required number of games played,
The potential of Schonny Winston losing the MVP award is not unfair.
It's not necessarily right, either.