ANOTHER prospect from the Ateneo Blue Eagles guard is knocking on the PBA door, and he might just become one of the sleepers of the coming rookie draft.
Juami Tiongson has been making heads turn at the Blackwater Sports Elite camp as he weighs the prospect of following former Blue Eagles guards LA Tenorio, Chris Tiu and Eman Monfort in the pro league.
“Mahusay 'yung bata. Sayang lang hindi masyadong nakapagpasiklab sa Ateneo kasi naglaro siya sa shadows nina Kiefer Ravena at Bacon Austria,” said Blackwater Sports assistant coach Boy Sablan.
“Ang worry ko lang sa kanya, wala siyang exposure, hindi siya nakapag D-League, tapos tumigil pa siya ng isang taon after ng UAAP eligibility niya,” added Sablan.
Tiongson, a member of Ateneo's multi-titled teams under Norman Black, bared that he had to put his basketball career on the backseat last year to focus on his studies.
Watch video of full interview with Juami Tiongson:
“Andami ko kasing commitments noon sa school. Saka inuna ko muna magpa-graduate, kasi thesis pa ako nung semester na 'yun,” said Tiongson, an AB interdisciplinary studies graduate.
And now that he has already secured his diploma, the hot-shooting guard wants to again give his basketball career another shot.
“Gusto ko na ituloy 'yung basketball career ko. Magpapa-draft ako now. Pero sa ngayon, gusto ko munang mag focus dito sa Blackwater Sports,” he said.
Tiongson will play for the Dioceldo Sy-owned franchise in a pocket tournament in Penang, Malaysia from July 24-29. His performance in that tournament will serve as his gauge for his PBA plans, he added.
“Hopefully, magtuloy-tuloy na ito. Talagang titignan ko po muna yung performance ko dito sa Blackwater, titignan ko magiging performance ko sa Malaysia, dun ako talaga mag-decide ng PBA plans ko,” he added.
Tiongson's failure to play in the D-League stands as a potential hurdle to his PBA draft plans. But the PBA's special assistant to the commissioner Willie Marcial encouraged Tiongson to go ahead.
“Pwede siyang dumiretso. Basta hindi siya Fil-foreign (player). Sa ngayon kasi, waived muna yung one-conference requirement sa mga locally honed players,” said Marcial.
In his first tune-up with Blackwater Sports, Tiongson scored 14 points, including three crucial three-pointers in an 82-85 loss to the Westports Malaysia Dragons on Monday morning.
But what impressed the scouts who witnessed the game was the "high basketball IQ" of Tiongson, who Blackwater Sports team manager Johnson Martines dubbed as a younger version of JV Casio.
“Parang JV Casio laro niya. Refined tapos may rason ang lahat ng galaw,” he said.