JOLO Mendoza reprised his role as scoring leader to power Ateneo to victory, taking charge when the Eagles looked set to extend their losing run.
Chances of ending a two-game skid looked bleak as the Eagles stared at an early 7-21 deficit to the University of hte East Red Warriors.
A top shooting guard with the Blue Eaglets, Mendoza has been moved to point guard in college but showed he hasn’t lost the magic touch and came up with a solid performance that helped the Eagles wake up from the sluggish start.
The victory ended a two-game skid and the Eagles firmed up their hold of third place behind unbeaten La Salle and streaking Far Eastern University.
"Coming off back-to-back losses, we needed this game. It's really a big confidence booster going into our game against NU," said Mendoza, a former mainstay of the Batang Gilas youth team.
Mendoza said learning to play in a new position is a must since he wasn't to be a scorer in college.
"For me, it's a learning process. I wasn't expecting in college na I'll get the same touches and the same amount of minutes. I'm taking it one step at a time. I'm enjoying every minute of it and I'm getting help from my teammates," said Mendoza.
The former Blue Eaglets standout didn’t make any assists in this game, assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga noted, but said he was impressed with how Mendoza has been adapting to the role of playmaker.
Mendoza took charge by scoring all of his 15 points in the first half. With the Eagles in the driver’s seat, the rest of the squad joined the scoring.
"He is understanding and learning a new position. It's not an easy task. He didn't have any assists in this game but he organized our team when he was inside and he only had one turnover," said Arespacochaga.
"We are happy with his growth in other aspects of the game. He has improved a lot," added the former Ateneo head coach.