TROY Rike came into the Philippines filled with high hopes, being able to strut his wares seamlessly in his first and only year in the UAAP for National University.
He got the exact opposite instead.
From issues regarding his eligibility, to being picked up and detained by the Bureau of Immigration right from the Mall of Asia Arena dugout – describing Rike’s season is already a challenging feat in itself and one can only imagine how it was like actually going through it.
“It was, to be honest, it was one of the most mentally tough years in my life,” said Rike when asked to talk about his season.
“Just everything that happened, not knowing if I’m gonna play, the arrest stuff and everything. It was really tough,” he added.
But perseverance always pays off one way or another and Rike reaped his rewards in the final game of his short, but colorful, UAAP career after putting up 17 points and 13 rebounds in their 79-71 win over the UE Red Warriors.
“This final game, people close to me, my mentors and everything said just have fun, relax, just enjoy your last game in the UAAP,” Rike explained.
“I was glad that translated to something good today. I was in a better mental state today, I’m just glad I still have it with me.”
The problem for Rike this season was that those games came far and few in between.
Before his late game explosion, Rike was merely averaging five points and four rebounds – totally far off from the expectations of Philippine hoops fans who were hoping to see more from an NCAA Division 1 product.
Rike certainly wished for a better season than that, but he insists that getting buckets and taking charge isn’t really his style of play.
“I wish I would have had a better season. If I’m gonna be technical; about, my averages should have been seven and seven. I’m not that type of player. I’m not gonna average 15 and 13. If you put me in a high school, I’m not gonna average 15 and 13, I’m a role player, I help the team win, that’s what I do,” explained Rike.
“If I come off, like this one, these games come randomly. There should have been more of it, I should have been more consistent, but it’s almost good,” he added.
“To end it on a right way. Obviously, the dream is a championship or a Final Four game, but to go out the right way is pretty good.”
This season certainly left a lot to be desired for Rike, both on and off the court, but he’ll take this chance to get an honorable exit after what was a turbulent season to say the least.
“It was great to end the season with a win obviously. The whole team, and myself, we wish we had a better season then we did,” said Rike.
He’s also looking forward to the bright future of the Bulldogs, though he won’t be a part of it on the court, he promises to be there for them every step of the way.
“I think we have a lot of young guys, unfortunately I’m not going to be able to be a part of it but going forward it’s going to be a really strong team,” Rike said.
“To see it kinda come together a little bit at the end was definitely a nice way to end the season.”