Undersized high school slotman Mike Nieto eager to prove doubters wrong as he plays college ball
Mike Nieto, who plays mostly at center, is now spending more time working on his outside shooting. Dante Peralta

MIKE Nieto looks to prove doubters wrong as the undersized but dominant slotman in high school tries tackles the bigger and tougher competition in the college level.

A vital part of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets champion squad in the UAAP Season 77 juniors tournament, Nieto is set to follow the footsteps of his father Jett by also joining the Blue Eagles next season, and he is eager to prove his worth.

The 17-year-old Nieto capped off his high school career in style, winning the UAAP Most Valuable Player in the recently-concluded season of the school league, while leading the Blue Eaglets to the title over National University.

But Nieto looks to be facing a tall order in college since he only stands at 6-foot-1 but plays mostly at center.

“I’m very excited to prove them wrong,” said Mike, who bared that it’s not the first time he heard such remarks.

“Marami na nagsasabi niyan, simula pa nung Fiba Worlds dahil mas malalaki ’yung nandoon. Pero ineembrace ko lang ’yung challenge.

“’Yun ’yung masaya eh, ’yung maraming nag-dodoubt sa ’yo. Pero kung napatunayan mo naman na kaya mo, they’ll be at your back to support you,” said the cager who at times called ‘Big Mike.’

Ateneo coach Joe Silva believes Mike Nieto will still do well in college despite being undersized for his natural position.

“He is smart and intelligent enough to reinvent his game. What he lacks in size, he makes up for heart. He will be a great asset for any college team,” said Silva.

Nieto knows he is too small to play center or even power forward in college, which is why he is trying to improve his game as he prepares to join the Blue Eagles. This season, Nieto has noticeably taken more three-point shots in preparation for sliding to possibly the small forward position.

“Aminin natin, maliit talaga ako sa size ko for a big man. Pero inaangat ko ’yung laro ko to be a forward next year para makatulong,” said Nieto.

“May court kasi kami sa bahay. Nag-eextra shooting kami ni (twin) Matt doon. Si Daddy, pinapagalitan talaga kami kapag hindi kami nakaka-shoot. Nag-pay off naman ’yung hardwork namin ni Matt.”

“Nag-iimprove naman ang outside shooting ko. Siguro more on dribbling pa ang kailangan kong iimprove,” Mike said.

Aside from teaming up with his twin brother Matt once again, Mike Nieto also looks forward to playing with Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena.


“I’m very excited for next season. First time ko magiging kakampi si Kiefer. I’ll just continue to do the hardwork. Pero magpapahinga muna kami ni Matt ng ilang weeks bago sumali sa training ng Blue Eagles,” said Mike.

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