RUSSEL Escoto has made a rousing return from a season-ending injury for Far Eastern University last Saturday.
Although overshadowed by both Mike Tolomia and Mark Belo in the Tamaraws’ stunning 82-77 victory over defending champion La Salle, Escoto nonetheless made his presence felt by scoring 13 points behind his impeccable midrange jumper.
Escoto’s game has easily drawn comparisons with that of Talk N Text big man Ranidel De Ocampo as the Tamaraws, under coach Nash Racela, also employ the same dribble-drive offense of former Texters coach coach and now Gilas Pilipinas mentor Chot Reyes.
“Para dapat siya si Ranidel,” Racela said.
It was Escoto’s first game back since missing the entire Season 76 following an ACL injury he suffered in the PBA D-League.
Following the injury, Escoto, a reed-thin big man during his younger days, became bigger and stronger as he prepared for the coming UAAP season.
Racela admitted Escoto’s performance came as a surprise for him as he had to earn playing minutes in the crucial fourth quarter when Tolomia and Belo took charge for the Tamaraws.
Tolomia poured in 13 of his 23 points in the fourth while Belo had eight of his 20 points in the second quarter when Escoto had six.
“To tell you honestly, hindi ko alam ang i-eexpect kay Russel,” Racela said. “I don’t even know what he thinks. Pero nakatulong siya. I wasn’t trying to play him in the end but with the way he played, he deserved it.”