ANTIPOLO — Adamson Lady Falcons coach Ewon Arayi believes Mar Prado's 40-point performance against University of the Philippines is enough proof that she is ready for the international stage.
"Malaking bagay ito dahil pangarap ko para sa players ko na maabot nila yung national team," she said after the Lady Falcons' 83-50 whipping of the Lady Maroons on Sunday.
Arayi should know.
Arayi was in this position before, winning the MVP award in 2004 and leading Adamson to two championships.
"Ginamit kong kasangkapan ang UAAP para makaabot doon. Kaya sinasabi ko sa kanila, di ka pwedeng papatay-patay dito, di pwedeng palambut-lambot dahil sa international, mas mahirap pa ang makakalaban mo. So kailangang ipakita mo na dito pa lang, dominante ka na," said Arayi.
And that's exactly the dream she has for Prado.
Prado is the league's top scorer, averaging 23.7 points through 11 games.
And in this UP win, she joined the esteemed 40-point club, being only the fourth player to reach the scoring mark after Raiza Palmera, who had 44 points for Far Eastern University in 2011; Allana Lim, who scored a league record 45 points for the Lady Tamaraws in 2012; and National University's Ria Nabalan, who got 40 last season.
But for Prado, as grand as those goals Arayi has for her, she's staying on the present.
"Blessed na naabot ko yun dahil magagaling na players yun. Pero ang motivation ko lang is matulungan ang teammates ko," the 23-year-old said as Adamson remained at third spot with its 7-4 card.
"Hindi ko naman maaabot at magagawa yun kung wala sila. Dahil sa mga assists nila, steals na naipapasa nila sa akin, ginagrab ko lang para ma-shoot ko yung bola."
And that attitude is what makes Arayi feel fortunate to have Prado on her side.
"Blessed kami kasi yung sacrifice ng team para sa pag-angat niya, umaangat din kami ng buo. Sabi ko nga sa kanila, pag maganda ang laro mo, maganda ang laro ng lahat," she said.
Scoring 40 points is already a hard feat to accomplish, but Arayi feels that Prado could still achieve more while also taking the Lady Falcons with her upwards.
"Yung goal namin na makaabot sita ng 40 points, na-hit niya. Yung lampasan, may next year pa so wag natin i-pressure," she said. Knowing yung abilidad niya at kapasidad niya sa paglalaro, kaya niya eh. Pero kahit maka-40 points siya, ang maganda pa rin is hindi siya bwakaw."
"Mas malaking bagay kung malampasan niya yung record kasi yung mga yun, part at naging part ng national team. What more kaya pag nalampasan niya yun? Mas malaking edge para sa kanya yun para makaabot sa national team."