WHILE fans anticipated the debut of notable names such as Ray Parks, Prince Rivero and Gerald Anderson, little-known Yves Sazon stole the show in the opener of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
The Philippine Christian University standout came out sizzling as he led Marikina to an 88-81 victory over General Santos in the curtain raiser of the Anta Datu Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday.
Sazon finished with 33 points on 6-of-11 shooting from three-point land to go along with 10 boards, finally showcasing the skills that made him the worst-kept secret among players in the little-known NAASCU league.
His head coach Elvin Tolentino wasn’t surprised anymore. In fact, the fiery mentor demanded more from him.
“Si Yves, he knows what I want. Sabi ko sa kanya, tira lang, kapag malakas siya, ako na bahala mag-adjust,” said Tolentino.
“Hindi na ako nagulat. Kulang pa nga e. Malaki talaga ineexpect ko sa kanya,” he added.
Sazon is coming off a so-so outing with Navotas Clutch in the league's maiden season. But with his coach continuing to keep the faith, Sazon is just merely repaying the confidence.
“Parating sinasabi sa amin ni coach, mentality namin, winning attitude. Last season, natuto na ako sa mga mali ko,” said Sazon. “Pinaghandaan ko to individually kasi kulang pa kami sa time mag-gel. Nag-extra work ako."
With the attention and the spotlight now on them, Sazon believes that this puts him one step closer of reaching his dream which is to one day make the PBA.
With Tolentino’s guidance and his unceasing appetite to improve, Sazon believes he’ll get there someday.
“Yes. Perfect ito. Magandang liga, sikat at maraming fans. Kaya gina-grab ko ang opportunity na binigay sa akin ni coach Elvis. Hindi ko sasayangin,” Sazon said.
“Ito na yun, malapit na. Nagtitiwala pa rin ako kay coach Elvin na hindi nila ako pababayaan.”