OF all the former teammates Jake Figueroa had in the past, reconnecting with AP Manlapaz excites the UAAP Season 82 Juniors MVP the most.
"Si AP, nakakasama ko siya dito sa Pampanga. So gusto ko siyang makasama ngayon sa Adamson," he said.
Figueroa and Manlapaz banner the youth revolution in San Marcelino after the former finally committed to stay and play for the Soaring Falcons on Thursday.
Curiously, both forwards hail from the same province, with Figueroa coming from Minalin and Manlapaz being a native of San Fernando.
That they come from Pampanga, a famed hotbed of basketball talents, only serves as a fuel for Figueroa to further better his game.
"Sinasabihan ako ng lolo ko na ang daming magaling na player sa Pampanga kaya nagsumikap lang ako gumaling," said Jake, who idolizes fellow Cabalen Arwind Santos while keeping in mind the lessons he got from his grandfather Monico.
Figueroa's supernova ascent was enough to attract a lot of suitors, but in the end, the do-it-all 6-foot-2 winger kept his decision close to home.
"Hindi naman mahirap yung naging desisyon. Doon ko talaga gusto magpatuloy sa college. Di ko iniisip yung offer ng ibang school. Sa Adamson talaga ang gusto ko," he said, grateful for the guidance he had from his Baby Falcons coach Mike Fermin.
But the constant desire to prove himself only continues, with Figueroa well aware that being a star in the high school level doesn't necessarily guarantee success in the seniors ranks.
Lucky for him, a boatload of former Baby Falcons roam the men's side, among them Manlapaz, Joem Sabandal, and fellow incoming rookies Matt Erolon, Joshua Barcelona, and Didat Hanapi.
"Iba ang laruan sa juniors at seniors at iba yung sistema nila," he said. "Pero advantage sa akin na nandoon yung ibang teammates ko sa juniors kasi kung may di ako naiintindihan, sila na mas ahead sa akin, pwede nila akong tulungan."