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    New role at Air21 a welcome challenge for `Ninja'

    Dec 7, 2013

    JOSEPH Yeo’s career renaissance at Air21 goes along with the decision to convert him from shooting guard to certified playmaker.

    And so far, the 6—foot-1 Yeo isn’t backing down from the challenge.

    The former De La Salle University stalwart won his first game playing the point with the Express on Saturday when Air21 routed Barako Bull, 92-77, in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    Six games into the All-Filipino conference, Yeo is responding to the shift in role by submitting career-best numbers of 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in 35 minutes of action.

    He credits the smooth transition from the `2’ spot to the point guard role to Air21 coach Franz Pumaren, who handled him at La Salle almost a decade ago.

    “Dati naman, nung bata pa ako, nag-po-point guard na ako, nung elementary at high school. Pero si coach Franz, point guard din naman, so binibigyan niya ako ng advice paano patakbuhin ang team,” Yeo said.

    The win enabled the Express to snap a five-game losing skein to open the league’s 39th season, while hopefully, signals a new beginning for an Air21 squad that has gone through a roster build up in the offseason.

    Yeo has been a winner since his high school days with the Xavier Stallions, La Salle Green Archers, and even during his brief stint with the now-defunct Sta. Lucia Realtors, who won the Philippine Cup in 2007.

    Which is the reason why when Pumaren moved him to the point guard spot, Yeo readily accepted the challenge.

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    “Kasi gusto ni coach na magsabay kmi ni Macmac maglaro. So sabi lang ni coach matuto na ako maglaro sa point guard, kasi as of now injured si Simon (Atkins). Si Wynne (Arboleda) naman, minsan di rin masyado nagagamit tapos si Bonbon (Custodio), di naman talaga point guard, so tulong tulong lang kami,” explained the 30-year-old Yeo, known as the  `Ninja.’

    At 1-5, Yeo admits the Express are still a long way from at least going into the upper bracket of the standings, but with its first win, he has high hopes the team will come alive and make it to the playoffs.

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