COMING to National University, John Lloyd Clemente had an idea how big of a legend Jeff Napa is in the Jhocson campus.
"Nung bago pa lang ako sa NU, nakita ko na ang ganda ng pitik niya. Tapos tinanong ko sa mga tao, 'Player ba ito dati?' Sabi ng mga tao na may record nga raw siya," Clemente recounted.
That record was Napa's 43-point explosion back in 2002, a distinction he shares to this day with Arnel Sunga back in 1993 and still stands as the highest scoring record for a Bulldog in UAAP history.
And on Sunday, Clemente came close to writing his name in the history books as he dropped 38 points in NU's 79-74 defeat of Far Eastern University.
The first-year player admitted he tried to match, or better yet beat, the record especially with how well he has been playing in the latter stages of the eliminations this UAAP Season 81.
"Simula pa lang last game mainit na ako eh. Naka-limang three-points na ako kaya sabi ko kay coach Jeff, ibe-break ko yung record mo," he told his former Bullpups mentor in jest after a 17-point first half last Wednesday against La Salle. Clemente finished with 19 in that game.
That's why coach Jamike Jarin himself urged the Bulldogs to try to ride Clemente's hot hands, with his teammates looking for him whenever the opportunity presented itself.
"Ang sabi ni coach Jamike, hanapin ako from the start. Kaya yung mga teammates ko, unang-una nag-thank you ako sa teammates ko lalo na kay Dave (Ildefonso) kanina kasi talagang sya yung humahanap sa akin," he said.
"Dito naman sa amin, kung sino lang ang mainit, sa kanya ibibigay. Start of the game pa lang, naramdaman ko na mainit na ako. Tapos simula ang second half, parang di na ako nagmimintis. Nagulat na nga lang ako, lahat ng tira pumapasok."
What followed was a blazing third quarter where Clemente buried 21 points to keep NU within striking distance of the Tamaraws.
Unfortunately, his valiant effort still wasn't enough to save the Bulldogs from a fourth straight defeat.
But though NU is already out of the running for a Final Four berth, Clemente's emergence should augur well for the team's future.
"Simula pa lang ng summer, yun talaga yung winork ko. Sabi ko from high school pa lang, mag-work na ako sa katawan ko tapos patitibayin ko pa yung shooting ko para lalong maging consistent," the 19-year-old said.
Napa's record is not safe from Clemente.
"Si coach Jeff, parang tatay ko na rin yan. Siya talaga yung mentor ko. Siya nagturo sa akin pano mag-shoot. Pagdating ko sa NU, pangit talaga ng shooting form ko eh," he said.
"Hindi ko na-break ngayon, pero yun talaga yung target ko. Sana magawa ko. Four years pa. Kaya pa yan."