ONE couldn't help but be in awe of how Alvin Pasaol has carried the torch for University of the East this UAAP Season 81.
Though the Red Warriors have been hungry for victories with only one W to boot through eight outings, the burly forward's stupendous play keeps the cellar-dwelling team a dangerous foe to face.
And it shouldn't come as a surprise that Pasaol's efforts have been rewarded, with him placing second in the statistical points race for the Most Valuable Player award with his averages of 23.5 points and 10.0 rebounds.
But winning the plum is the least of 23-year-old cager's concerns, saying: "Wala sa akin yun. Gusto ko lang manalo kami."
Pasaol has been the undisputed alpha for UE, the unquestionable go-to-guy for the team this season, but more than the numbers he's racking up, coach Joe Silva wanted him to embrace the role of the team's leader.
However, unlike the traditional archetype of leaders, the 6-foot-3 super scorer has his own way of approaching the job.
"Mas maganda yung leader ka by action kaysa lip service lang yung ginagawa mo," he said as he lets his game do the talking and hoping that his efforts rub off on his teammates.
"Ganoon yung mas gusto ko. Sabi ko sa kanila, laruin niyo lang yung gusto niyo laruin. Nandito lang ako sa likod ninyo kung kailangan ninyo ko. Maglaro lang sila ng mabuti, at ganoon din sa aming lahat."
Pasaol also doesn't fail on empowering his teammates, democratic on his approach as the Red Warriors hope to build on their learnings in this season's struggles.
"Lahat kami pinapakinggan namin ang isa't isa. Lahat naman leader sa amin eh. Hindi naman ako lang ang leader kundi lahat kami dahil lahat kami pwedeng magsalita. Sumusunod din naman yung mga teammates ko sa akin," he said.
That's why as lowly as UE's situation is, Pasaol isn't losing hope that his squad will see the light of day moving forward, turning its attention to its next assignment against UP on Sunday.
"Kaya pa namin. Push pa namin ang sarili namin na kailangan namin gumawa. Gusto namin yung standing namin last season, lamangan pa namin. Effort na lang kami ng konti. Lumalaban naman kami eh," he said while still managing to joke about his own situation.
"Siguro kakain na lang ulit ako ng unli rice."