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    Like idols Pingris and Abueva, Ato Ular takes pride in being a role player

    4 days ago
    Ato Ular Marc Pingris
    Ato Ular is bound for a bright future by looking up to Marc Pingris.
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño | Marlo Cueto

    WHEN he comes out of nowhere to grab a miss and score on a putback, Ato Ular proves he hardly needs the ball to make an impact in a game.

    Just like how his idol played.

    Asked by a fan on SPIN Zoom In which PBA icon he looks up to, the Blackwater rookie sensation had no hesitation mentioning "Pinoy Sakuragi" Marc Pingris.

    Ato Ular on Marc Pingris

    “Syempre puso sa puso lang, tapang sa tapang, kay kuya Marc tayo,” Ular said. “Mga idol ko talaga yung mga role players eh. Yung mga hindi rin nakikita yung ginagawa sa depensa, rebound.”

    “Mga magagaling rumebound, idol ko talaga yan,” he added, also including Calvin Abueva on his list. “Yung hindi pansinin, pero nakakaganitong rebound na pala.”

    Pingris made his name by doing the dirty work, becoming a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and an eight-time All-Defensive Team member on the way to winning nine PBA titles and being one of the PBA’s 40 Greatest Players.

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    The 27-year-old Ular likewise takes pride in the unglamorous aspects of the game as he has always been in the right place and at the right time to pick up offensive rebounds and score on tip-ins.

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    Ato Ular

    The lefty 6-foot-4 big man was sixth in the Philippine Cup in offensive rebounds at 3.09 a game and 10th in total rebounds with 8.4 game.

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    By simply scoring on those putbacks, the 13th overall pick in the 2022 PBA Draft emerged as the Bossing’s leading scorer with 14.2 points a game on 54-percent shooting in 27 minutes over 11 games to also become the unlikely leader in the Rookie of the Year race.

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      Like Pingris, Ular raises the banner for role players who he feels deserve more spotlight.

      “Kagaya ko, role player lang ako. Hindi naman ako scorer talaga eh,” Ular said. “Kasi yung mga bata ngayon, nakikita na lang nila yung mga highlights, makaka-cross over, makaka-shoot. Parang natatabunan yung mga player na tumatrabaho talaga, sa depensa, kung paano mag-screen.”

      “Kahit sino naman magaling eh, pero mao-open ka ba kung walang i-iscreen sa’yo?” he added. “Kaya dapat talaga napapansin din kahit papaano ang mga role players. Wala namang magiging superstar kung wala kang taga-screen.”

      And living up to his role, Ular is even willing to lend a hand to his idol Pingris, who earlier challenged online influencer Rendon Labador to a 1-on-1 game after the latter’s comment about Gilas Pilipinas and coach Chot Reyes following the Fiba World Cup qualifying home game against Saudi Arabia.

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      Asked by another fan on SPIN Zoom In if he would take on Labador instead, Ular, without batting an eyelash, was game.

      “Oo, patulan na natin,” Ular said with a chuckle. “Wag na si kuya Marc yung pumatol. Ako na lang siguro pwede. Magpapagod lang si kuya Marc eh. Wag ng pansinin yung mga ganun. Magsasayang lang ng oras at panahon si kuya Marc.”

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      Ato Ular is bound for a bright future by looking up to Marc Pingris.
      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño | Marlo Cueto
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