KENT Salado admitted that there’s a ton of pressure as he assumes the role of Arellano’s main man following the departure of his good friend and backcourt buddy Jiovani Jalalon to the pro-ranks.
But in his NCAA Season 93 debut, Salado didn’t seem weighed down by such heavy expectations.
The 22-year-old pride of Cagayan de Oro City finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in Arellano’s 91-82 win over Mapua on Saturday in the Season 93 opener at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Not only did he put up numbers across the board, Salado anchored their defensive stand in the endgame while also draining clutch jumper after another—just the way Jalalon used to for Arellano—to put the Cardinals away.
“Sa akin lang, may pressure eh. Yun yung sabi ng lahat eh, parang papalit kay Jio. Mahirap eh, Jalalon yun eh,” said Salado.
“Para magawa kung ginagawa niya, nagfo-focus lang ako sa game, wala akong iniisip sa iba, yun lang sa laro,” he added.
But Salado insisted that it’s not about his numbers in this game that truly mattered. Though he put up impressive stats, he was even more delighted in seeing his teammates get over the first game jitters with the win.
“Happy lang lahat kasi nakuha namin yun unang panalo. Para rin makuha din ng kumpyansa yung ibang teammates ko,” he said.
Arellano coach Jerry Codinera acknowledged the fact that this is indeed Salado’s team now, but warned his wards not to rely too much on their do-it-all guard.
While their success will definitely have Salado’s imprints all over it, it should still be a team effort at the end of the day.
“Si Salado, he’s really the heart and soul, but the people around him yun pinaka second factor, yung tumutulong sa kanya. Kung wala support group, mahihirapan din siya,” Codinera said.
“He cannot do it alone. I’m always counting on my second group. Sina Michael (Canete), (Levi) Dela Cruz. Support ng mga other players,” he added.