La Salle coach Aldin Ayo likens recruit Aljun Melecio to former Letran star Mark Cruz
Aljun Melecio is one of the prolific scorers in the UAAP juniors tournament. Dante Peralta

HIGH school standout scorer Aljun Melecio is making a good impression on his future college coach Aldin Ayo, who likens the La Salle recruit to Letran spitfire Mark Cruz.

Ayo refused to elaborate on his assessment, sharing instead the obvious difference in body structure between his former Letran Knight ward and the 17-year-old firestarter who is set to join the Green Archers after his stint at Zobel in UAAP Season 78.

“Almost the same with Mark (Cruz),” said Ayo, while citing that the 5-foot-8 Melecio is just a few inches taller and a little more muscular than Cruz. “Kaya lang, mas malaki ngayon ang katawan ni Aljun.” 

Ayo sure is familiar with Cruz after leading Letran's title run in NCAA Season 91 where Cruz was named Finals MVP for leading the Knights over the  San Beda Red Lions in three games.

Incidentally, Ayo is the reason why Melecio decided to stay with La Salle for college. Melecio was coached by Ayo during their stint in the Jr. NBA Philippines program in 2012.

Melecio has been lighting up scoreboards this season, scoring 40 or more points twice already in the UAAP juniors division. He notched 42 points during the first game of Season 78 before adding 41 in a game against Far Eastern University-Diliman in the second round.

One of his signature moves is taking a three-point shot off a screen from a teammate, which happens to be a staple in Cruz's arsenal.

However, Ayo clarified that his familiarity with and fondness for Melecio's game doesn't automatically merit the young scorer a spot in the rotation as he will still evaluate how the other guards will play.

The Green Archers have a stacked backcourt with Andrei Caracut, Thomas Torres, Enzo Navarro, and the returning Kib Montalbo on their roster.

A good offensive game, Ayo said, won’t even be enough for a slot in the heavy backcourt lineup.

“Too early to tell kasi lahat naman sila, they have to earn their minutes sa practice. Siguro, kung sino magdedepensa dun, ‘yun ang kakain ng maraming minutes. Defense-oriented naman ang sistema ko,” said Ayo.

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