TYLER Tio made heads turn when he started for Phoenix in his very first game in the PBA Philippine Cup against San Miguel on Wednesday night.
The rookie passed the test with flying colors.
The 5-foot-11 Ateneo alumnus finished with 17 points, two rebounds, and an assist in his pro debut - not bad for a player picked in the second round (No. 14 overall) of the recent PBA rookie draft.
What’s more, he was a perfect 5-of-5 from three-point range as the Fuel Masters gave the Beermen a huge fight before going down in a 108-100 loss.
Tio said he prepared well for his first game in the league, more so after he was told by coach Topex Robinson that he’d be made part of his starting five.
“Actually coach Topex told me on draft night that they are looking for a starting point guard and I’m just really thankful for the trust he gave me from the beginning and that coach believe in me at this level,” said Tio.
“And he told me after a couple of practices that he was going to start me, so I have to repay his trust.”
Starting for the Fuel Masters and playing the point had Tio going up against veteran playmaker Chris Ross.
Tio said it was a dream to be matched up against the 37-year-old Ross, one of the toughest defenders in the league who is an eight-time champion, a two-time Finals MVP, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and a former Best Player of the Conference awardee.
“I just used to watch those guys on TV, so definitely it’s an honor to play against these guys. I look up to them, try to study their games and take different part of their games and added to mine. It was just a dream come true like I said,” Tio added.
“Obviously I watched June Mar on TV, but he’s a different beast when you play against him. He killed us in the paint, and not just even him. Vic Manuel killed us, CJ [Perez] killed us with his drives, so we definitely have to shore that up.”
Tio said it hasn’t sunk in yet that he’s finally playing in Asia’s pioneering pro league. But with the way he played in his first game, the guy is just expected to get even better.
“I’m going to take this night and be happy,” he said.
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