JAKE Figueroa admitted that he didn't just feel the nerves but also felt pressure in his seniors debut.
After all, it wasn't just any other first game for the rookie but it came against Adamson, where he played juniors basketball.
"Siguro may kasamang pressure kasi first time kong mag-laro sa seniors at kalaban ko pa school ko nung juniors ako," he said after National University's 71-69 escape in UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament on Saturday.
It was a pedestrian performance from the Kapampangan forward who finished with seven points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field, to go with eight rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 16 minutes of action in his first game for the Bulldogs.
It's a far cry from what's expected from Figueroa, who was the UAAP Juniors MVP back in Season 82 with his numbers of 13.2 points, 14.2 boards, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.4 blocks.
Jake Figueroa and the Bulldogs get a close first-day win.
But coach Jeff Napa is confident of the 6-foot-3 rookie.
"Alam ko kasi kung ano ang capabilities ni Jake. Dahil sa first game niya sa college level, siguro nag-aadjust pa rin talaga si Jake. Itong kasama ko rito, he's still a rookie pa rin eh pero happy ako dahil nili-live nila yung expectations ko sa kanila at talagang nagde-deliver," he said.
It's a viewpoint that isn't exclusive to Figueroa with Napa also counting on his other younger wards to fasttrack their maturity to be able to compete this season.
"Di lang naman sila. Lahat ng mga rookies, veterans, and sophomores, all the 16 guys talagang binibigay nila yung best nila," he said.
"Happy lang talaga na nandito si Jake. Alam ko yung capabilities na meron pa eh. Medyo bitin pa yung performance niya, so kahit papaano meron nang nakita yung mga tao na kaunting glimpse para kay Jake Figueroa. As the tournament goes on, mas marami pa silang makikita sa kanya and sa other guys namin."
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