ALJUN Melecio played down early comparisons to his 'idol' Mark Cruz, most notably from his La Salle coach Aldin Ayo, saying he still has a long way to go to even be at par with the former Letran star.
Ayo, who coached Cruz at Letran to an NCAA title last year, said he sees similarities in the play of Melecio and his former star guard who now plays for the Star Hotshots in the PBA.
But Melecio, the UAAP Season 78 Juniors MVP, was caught unaware and naturally shied away as he felt he has much to improve to even be at Cruz's level.
“Hindi ko nga alam,” said Melecio when asked to react about comparisons with Cruz. “Ang layo [pa] ng laro [ko sa kanya]. Idol ko ‘yun.”
But this early, similarities between Melecio and Cruz not just with their size but with their offensive game have been apparent. And the comparisons will only intensify as Melecio learns the college game under Cruz's former mentor.
Despite his reluctance, Melecio said he will try his best to live up to the high expectations the comparison brings.
“Nakaka-pressure din kasi Mark Cruz ‘yun. Idol ko ‘yun. Tapos kino-compare ako. Wala pa akong ganung laro. Pero hopefully, magawa ko rin ‘yun or malagpasan ko,” he said.
Melecio is expected to report to La Salle practices next week following the end of his campaign with Zobel, which lost in Game Three of the finals to National University on Friday, 96-75.
The Zobel star said he will have to double his efforts in order to adjust to the college game.
“Ibang level na eh. Siguro work hard pa kasi iba na ‘yung level sa college compared sa high school na medyo madali lang ang galaw,” Melecio said.
Melecio also has modest expectations about his limited role and playing time with an Green Archers team loaded with scorers and playmakers.
“Kailangan magbigay ako ng quality minutes. Pagdating sa Taft, hindi na heavy minutes ang magagawa ko. Kailangang mabigyan ko si coach Aldin ng quality minutes para maka-contribute ako sa team,” said Melecio.