JOLO Mendoza still has a year left with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets and so college basketball is the least of his concern after his scintillating finals performance helped the school regain the UAAP juniors basketball title on Friday.
Mendoza exploded for 30 points as the Blue Eaglets scored a 90-73 whipping of National University Baby Bulldogs to bring the high school championship to Katipunan for the first time since 2010.
The third-year player had 19 of his total output in the second period and ended up as the Finals MVP.
The peppery guard who saw action for Batang Gilas in the Fiba Under-17 World Championship said he isn't thinking about college at this point, setting his sights instead on a title repeat for the Blue Eaglets next season.
“It hasn’t crossed my mind,” said Mendoza, son of current Barako Bull assistant coach Jigs Mendoza and nephew of Joey Mendoza, a member of the 1986 University of the Philippines Maroons champion team in the UAAP.
“Katatapos lang ng season na ‘to and may one year pa ako.”
The 17-year-old Mendoza is already excited about the next challenge as he looks forward to another possible stint with the national youth team as well as another UAAP juniors crown despite the departure of celebrated twins Mike and Matt Nieto.
“It’s always a different experience and feeling playing for the national team. I’m looking forward to the next chance to play for the national team,” Mendoza said.
“As to next year’s campaign in the UAAP, back-to-back sana.”
In front of a national audience, Mendoza capped off the season in great fashion behind his first-half scoring rampage that enabled the Blue Eaglets to take control of Game Three of the title series.
“Maganda ‘yung feeling na maka-30 points,” Mendoza said. “Pero mas maganda ‘yung feeling na nakatulong ako na manalo ng championship. Gusto ko talagang manalo.”
Mendoza said the Blue Eaglets were determined to win the series in Game Three, knowing NU has the ability to bounce back if the finals goes to a rubber match.
The Bullpups won the series opener by handling the Blue Eaglets their first and only loss of the season following a 14-game sweep of the elimination round.
“Pinatagal na kasi namin ‘yung series. I just stayed more aggressive. In our first game, masyado kaming tense, nakalimutan ko na i-enjoy ‘yung game. Last two games, in-enjoy ko lang ‘yung laro,” said Mendoza.