AS long as the wait was, it is all worth it for John Lloyd Clemente.
Forced to sit out last season as he completed 12th grade, the 6-foot-3 forward finally showed what he's made of, exploding for 21 points and four rebounds in NU's big 88-61 rout of UE to finish the first round strong.
"Na-feel ko lang na kada shoot ko, pasok lahat. Parang ang laki ng ring para sa akin ngayong araw na ito," said Clemente after going 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-7 from threes.
His efforts were crucial in halting a five-game skid for NU as it heads to the second round optimistic despite its 2-5 card.
"Feeling ko talaga, gagawa talaga ako ngayon. Yung teammates ko, hinahanap din ako."
It wasn't an easy adjustment for Clemente, who had to take a step back as a bevy of bluechip recruits joined him in his first year with the Bulldogs.
But rather than look at it as others taking his thunder, the 20-year-old Apalit, Pampanga native is relishing playing alongside the wealth of talent NU currently has.
"Para sa akin, ang laking tulong nila kasi alam naman natin sila. Mga star player sila kaya feeling ko, mag-iiba yung culture ng NU pagdating nila," he remarked, happy with the haul NU got which includes the likes of Dave Ildefonso from Ateneo, John Galinato from Chiang Kai Shek and Troy Rike from Wake Forest.
"Nag-e-enjoy naman kaming maglaro nang magkasama. Five years pa kaming magkakasama kaya sa susunod na game, yung connection namin, maging matibay pa. Ang sarap ng feeling na maraming katulong sa team. Para sa akin, kung sinong nandyan na teammate ko, silang lahat, brother ko sila. Kapatid na rin ang turingan namin."
There's no denying, though, that Clemente has an extra oomph in his game being one of the only three homegrown players to come from Nazareth School of National University.
And there's nothing more that could make his collegiate career worthwhile than replicating what he did in the juniors' level, which is winning a title.
"Masaya ako kasi para sa NU itong ginagawa ko. Lalo pa naming pagbubutihin ang laro namin para masuklian namin yung NU ng championship," he said.