JANSEN Rios admitted football helped him become a better basketball player especially on defense as the former Adamson slotman hopes to get tab in Sunday’s PBA Draft at the Robinsons’ Place in Manila.
Before basketball, the 23-year-old Rios said football was his first sport in which the pride of Romblon even represented the region in the Palarong Pambansa during his high school years when he was once a highly-recruited player by Manila schools.
“’Yun talaga event ko eh. Late bloomer lang ako sa basketball,” said Rios, who can play both the small forward and shooting guard positions at 6-foot-3.
But with only few opportunities in football at that time, Rios shifted to basketball for good in his final year in high school, eventually leading to his recruitment by then-Adamson coach Leo Austria to play college ball for the Falcons.
Rios, however, is grateful to football as it helped him develop his footwork needed when playing defense especially in basketball.
“Thankful ako sa football kasi ang laki ng naitulong nun sa akin,” said Rios, a former striker and center-forward.
Rios played under Austria from 2010 to 2013 before suiting up for his fifth and final year with the team under Kenneth Duremdes in 2014.
Following his stints in the PBA D-League, Rios prepared himself for the draft by training at the Headstart Sports Academy owned by Willy Chan and Edster Sy located at the SGS gym in Quezon City.
Rios said he owed his basketball career a lot to Austria, who is now head coach of the San Miguel Beermen.
It is with Austria, according to Rios, that he learned to play with a defensive mentality, the same mindset that he wants to bring if he is signed up by any PBA team.
“’Yun talaga ang strength ko sa depensa. Mas gugustuhin ko dumepensa kasi ‘yung opensa sa akin, bonus na lang. Lately ko na lang na-develop ‘yung offense. Talagang gusto kong dumepensa ng star player kasi ang sarap ng pakiramdam kapag napipigilan mo sila,” said Rios.
“Para sa akin, depensa talaga. Sa height ko, sobrang malaking advantage sa depensa,” he added.