KENNETH Zamora would be the first to admit that it took quite a while for him to adjust to the UAAP atmosphere.
The 20-year-old transferee out of Arellano was used to hearing piercing screams of teenage ladies gushing over his boyish good looks – and that only happened during the times that he got spot minutes on the court to relieve like Jio Jalalon and Kent Salado.
Now, it’s the banging sound of the drums, the instructions from his coaches, and the joys and anguish of fans from both ends as he plays a critical role in the young University of Santo Tomas squad under the tutelage of coach Aldin Ayo.
It’s something that Zamora enjoys thoroughly.
“Sobrang laki, naninibago pa ako nung una kong paglalaro sa UAAP. Sa Arellano sa NC, third stringer, minsan lang ako ipasok,” said Zamora after the Growling Tigers’ 86-72 win over the UP Fighting Maroons on Wednesday.
“Kinausap naman ako ni coach na magfocus ka lang at malaking role ang gagawin ko sa team niya, hopefully nakapagadjust na ako and sana magtuloy tuloy na,” he added.
Familiarity also played a big role in helping Zamora flourish as he already knew what to expect from Ayo’s system.
Zamora played against Ayo’s Letran Knights – the eventual champions of the NCAA Season 91 - and when Ayo came on board last January, even he himself had reservations if he’ll fit into the champion coach’s system.
With the way he’s been playing over the past few games – that’s pretty much out of the question.
“Naglaban kami noon, rookie year ko yun, rookie coach siya nun so ayun po. Nung pagdating niya sa UST, sobrang kabado ako, sobrang defensive minded ang pagcocoach niya sa team,” said
“Buti nalang nagfit ako sa kanya,” he added.
Zamora, who drained four triples in the upset win over the Fighting Maroons, believes that he still has a long way to go – but he knows that he won’t be having problems in handling this bigger responsibility as long as he sticks with Ayo’s teachings – and heeds his veterans’ advice.
“Siguro ngayon yung decision making ko ang iimprove ko. Kinausap ako nila kuya Renzo (Subido), kuya Marvin (Lee) at nila coach na huwag ko masyado pilitin,” Zamora said.
“Kanina ko pa sinasabi na dapat lang sumandal sa sistema, kasi maganda ang nangyayari. Last game nanalo kami, so yun lang din ang ginagawa ko. Hindi ko hinahanap ang bola, kusang dumadating yan.”