RYAN Buenafe was so good a player during his Ateneo days that he earned the ire of rival players from La Salle.
LA Revilla and Jason Perkins specifically.
Not that the two hated Buenafe personally, but more on his being the assassin who never failed to deliver for the Blue Eagles especially when the going gets tough.
“Ryan is one of the most clutch college players na nakalaban namin,” Revilla admitted.
“Siya yung pag kailangan nila (Ateneo) ng basket, alam naman namin (La Salle) na kay Ryan pupunta yung bola, but he still finds a way na mapagana yung play or be able to convert a basket.”
Perkins shared the same impression on the now 30-year-old Buenafe.
“During my residency, I always watched the games and he was already a very good player,” said the power forward of the Phoenix Fuel Masters. “For me, he seems to be one of the best power forwards at the time in the UAAP.”
Buenafe also played multiple positions for Ateneo, according to Revilla, that he usually posed as match-up problem for the Green Archers.
“During our early years at La Salle, nagpe-press kami. Si Ryan, binibigay lang ni coach Norman (Black) yung bola sa kanya, nasisira na yung press namin,” said the point guard of NorthPort.
Not only was Buenafe an excellent player, he was also good at playing mind games, Perkins disclosed.
“He’s good and there’s something about him that made me mad sometimes,” the former Rookie of the Year recalled with a laugh.
“If I talk thrash to him, he doesn’t closes his mouth when he breaths,” said Perkins. “And he’s always talking trash. If I say something to him, he’ll say something completely random, like, ‘Hey, you have curly hair.’"
Buenafe was part of the Ateneo team that won a fifth straight UAAP men’s basketball title in 2012 to cap his decorated collegiate career.
He won four UAAP championships with the Blue Eagles and could have won five if he hadn’t missed the 2011 season.
During his stint with Ateneo, La Salle only won a championship once.
The Green Archers reclaimed the crown in 2013 as Buenafe played out his last season with the Blue Eagles before turning pro a few months after.
Unfortunately, the 6-foot-2 wingman never had the same success in his PBA career. Although tabbed by Alaska in the first round (No. 8 overall) of the 2013 draft, Buenafe hardly had an impact as a pro, primarily due to weight problems.
He bounced from Alaska to Meralco, where he was reunited with Black, but was never the same player he used to be in college.
But at least for a brief, interesting moment, Revilla and Perkins rekindled how Buenafe was once considered a great player during a recent Kamustahan episode of the PBA.