TEYTEY Teodoro has drawn comparisons to Johnny Abarrientos as far as his calm demeanor on the court is concerned.
No less than Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone noticed it.
“I love Tey. I think he is great,” said Cone after the rookie's Ginebra debut on Sunday. “He is greatly skilled. I think he has a presence about him that he plays with. He doesn’t get rattled. Nothing overcomes him. You see that right away.
“He plays with a kind of Johnny Abarrientos-type personality where nothing rattles him. He is prepared for everything and you can throw anything at him and he will be ready,” Cone added.
Abarrientos, of course, was a longtime player of Cone during the 1990s with Alaska, where he helped the Milkmen win Cone's first Grand Slam in 1996.
That persona was exactly what Cone saw in Teodoro when the former Jose Rizal University standout was invited to participate in Ginebra practice before eventually being signed up by the team.
On Sunday in the PBA season opener, Teodoro scored four points in seven minutes of action in the Gin Kings' 90-79 win over TNT KaTropa.
“We saw that right away in practice. We saw it in the practice game and I think we saw it in the first half,” said Cone.
Cone admitted he already had an eye on Teodoro ever since college, while also seeing him in a few games in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) where he played for the Batangas City Tanduay Athletics.
“I’ve been watching him since JRU and I saw him in a couple of games with JRU. I was impressed. I saw him in the Maharlika league two or three times. But he was just completely dominating plays. They were running screens for him, he was dominating with three-point shots, going to the basket. Before the rookie camp, I already had an eye on him,” said Cone.
Just one problem. Teodoro was not in the shape Cone would have liked, although that turned out to be a positive as far as the chance of getting the JRU guard is concerned.
“I was a little concerned but I was telling myself that maybe, that’s going to turn off other coaches and maybe he will have a chance to drop down to us. It was kinda combination of that and the fact that he came to camp overweight,” said Cone.
However, Ginebra never had an opportunity to tab Teodoro as he was selected first in the third round by Columbian, the same round where the Kings picked last and opted to draft Matt Salem.
Ginebra got an opportunity to get Teodoro only after he was left unsigned by the Dyip.
Cone said Teodoro reminds of some players who played under him during his Alaska days in the 1990s.
“I remember Merwin Castelo was a guy that caught my eye. Poch Juinio was the guy that caught my eye. Guys like that in the past that I just get it. Kinda like Alex Mallari the first time I watched him play. Teytey is one of those guys that caught my eye. I’ve been following him ever since thinking that he will fit in our system,” said Cone.
Cone would've wanted to give Teodoro more minutes in the opening game of the season against TNT, but opted to stay with his first stringers.
“I wouldn’t be afraid to play him in the second half but Scottie (Thompson), LA (Tenorio), and Sol (Mercado) where playing so well in terms of their chemistry on the court. I just think I didn’t want to disturb that. Kevin (Ferrer) and Aljon (Mariano) were playing well as well.
“But I’m not afraid to play that kid. He can play big moments. He just needs to learn more about our defense and techniques. But he is an accomplished offensive player. He just gets it,” Cone said.
Cone though made it clear Teodoro still has a lot of room for improvement in order to stake a claim to a place in the main Ginebra rotation.
“We will see. He has a lot to do. He has a lot to improve. It’s our first week of practice. But we like him. We like his presence on the court,” Cone said.