ROOKIE Tyler Tio is grateful to former college coach Tab Baldwin for being open to him in pinpointing the aspect of his game that needs to be developed and become a better player in the PBA.
The Phoenix playmaker admitted it was his Ateneo mentor who he first consulted when he was about to throw his hat into the 2022 rookie draft last summer.
“Kasi before my last year tinanong ko na siya what can I do to be a better player. And he gave me some of my weaknesses to work on,” said Tio without going into details on what the former Gilas Pilipinas coach thought were the flaws in his game.
“But he said my game right now is actually fit for the pro game. And I guess that gave me the confidence entering the draft na baka kaya ko pala yun, and that the pro game is meant for me.”
It is, judging by the way Tio has been playing for Phoenix, which is currently on a five-game winning run in its PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign.
The Phoenix guard was held to six points Sunday night, but grabbed the crucial rebound that led to two pressure-packed free throws in the final two seconds to clinch a 91-88 win by the Fuel Masters over the TNT Tropang Giga at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Tio added four rebounds and an assist as the Fuel Masters improved to 5-3 overall.
Despite slipping to the second round of the draft where he was selected by Phoenix coach Topex Robinson at No. 14 overall, Tio, Baldwin believed, was bound to make a name for himself in Asia’s pioneering pro league.
“Tyler is obviously going to be a very, very good professional basketball player in the PBA. He’s so clever, and now he can focus fully on just being a professional basketball player,” Baldwin told SPIN.ph’s Randolph Leongson when asked about the surprising showing so far of Tio, who leads the league in three-point shooting and a prime candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Tio is averaging 13.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists while shooting 37 percent from deep this conference.
The rising Phoenix star said he still shows up during Ateneo practices from time to time to personally talk with Baldwin.
“Bumibisita ako sa practices ng Ateneo from time to time and doon kami (Baldwin) nag-uusap,” Tio said. “It’s always really nice to hear from coach Tab.”