THIS early, National University head coach Jamike Jarin strong bond with his foreign recruit Issa Gaye is already paying off with improving results in the performance of the Bulldogs big man.
Against University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday, Gaye looked very comfortable as he finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks to tow the Bulldogs to a 94-84 victory, their second in three games in UAAP Season 80.
Jarin was all praises to the 20-year old slotman, noting his starting center’s humility and overall approach to the game.
“He's just a joy to coach. He's just a joy to coach because he's very humble, he does all the dirty works, he makes a lot of sacrifices, staying inside, protecting the rim,” said Jarin after the match.
“At least now, he's being given credit with his play. He jacks up the numbers eh,” he added.
Gaye was quick to show his humility as he quickly deflected the praise from his coach.
“He’s just being nice, he’s like my dad,” said the soft-spoken Senegalese recruit.
“I'm just doing my role in the team, which is getting the rebounds, trying to score if I can, helping in defense and block shots, that's my role, and that's what I'm doing right now. -- I will get all the rebound I can and block all the shots I can, that's it,” he added.
What impressed Jarin the most is the constant improvement of Gaye when it comes to maturity.
Coming into the game, the 6’8 slotman struggled to stay on the court as he was saddled with foul trouble.
This time, he was able to play his most number of minutes with 28 after limiting his foul count to just one.
“Today you see how mature he is. He only had one foul. In our first two games, he was in foul trouble. And he promised us, personally to me, I will stay away from foul trouble. That's the experience that we're learning right now,” said Jarin.
On his part, Gaye said he just learned his lessons from his first two outings.
“Before, I was just too aggressive. Today I just calmed down a little bit, just play defense, help without fouling,” said Gaye.
Even he was surprised with how he was able to do that, but for him, that’s what added experience does.
“I hope I will continue to do that. I was surprised that I got only one foul, with all the dirty work I did, getting the rebounds, I was surprised,” said Gaye.