JACK Gloria has turned heads in his stint with the Far Eastern University Baby Tamaraws in their run to the UAAP Season 79 juniors basketball crown that his game has even evoked comparisons with Calvin Abueva.
For his part, the young FEU standout is all smiles in embracing the tag as ‘Baby Beast’ since he has long looked up to the Alaska Aces star.
“Oo, natutuwa ako kasi idol ko siya,” said Gloria, “Tinatawag ako minsan na Baby Beast.”
Aside from comparisons to Abueva, Gloria has a lot to be happy about these days, especially with the Baby Tams sweeping last season’s champion National University for the Season 79 crown.
More importantly, Gloria capped off his high school career as a champion, before he moves on to the college level.
“Eto masaya kasi parang may napatunayan na rin kami tapos last year na rin namin,” said Gloria.
Gloria has been instrumental in the Baby Tamaraws’ run at the title especially on the boards. Despite standing just 5-foot-11, Gloria is second-best in rebounding with an average of 7.6 during the elimination round—making him all the more worthy of being compared to Abueva.
“’Yun ‘yung panlaban ko, ‘yung talon ko,” said Gloria, who originated from Olongapo City. “Sa lakas ng katawan at bilis. Kasi ‘yung mga nakakalaban ko, mga 6-5, mga malalaki. Kailangan daanin sa bilis at sa utak.”
The connection to the Alaska star doesn’t end there, as before moving to FEU, Gloria was discovered from the Alaska Power Camp in Subic.
“Puro connected nga eh,” said Gloria, who was spotted by Alaska great Jojo Lastimosa, an assistant coach of the FEU juniors basketball team.
“Nagsimula ako sa Alaska Power Camp sa Subic tapos Jr. NBA, ‘yung naka-discover sa akin si coach Jolas. Inadopt niya ako for two weeks tapos nag-training ako. Dinala ako sa FEU,” he recalled.
Despite the comparisons, Gloria knows he still very far from what Abueva can do on the floor, admitting he has a lot to improve his game especially entering college. That is why despite being champions of the UAAP, Gloria prefers to be humble in victory as it is still a long way to go for him in his basketball career.
“Okay lang kami na champion kami. Champion lang pero dapat humble pa rin ‘yung team. Walang maiiba sa samahan,” he said.
“Sa college, sabi lahat ng mga coaches ko, puwede ako sa college pero ‘yung dribbling ko kailangan ko i-improve. ‘Yung shooting, madali na lang. Dribbling na lang,” added Gloria.
Gloria is also keeping his focus on finishing his high school studies before even thinking about where to play in college.
“Wala pa sa ngayon,” said Gloria, when asked about college plans. “May mga naririnig na pero ‘di muna. Aral muna.”