IS Adamson rookie Ivan Villanueva related to PBA player Enrico Villanueva?
The answer is yes.
The young Villanueva made a splash in his first UAAP men’s basketball game with his 15 points and nine rebounds for the Falcons, the best debut stats-wise by a rookie out of high school - far better actually than those of heralded freshmen Arvin Tolentino, Thirdy Ravena, and Prince Rivero.
Readers of Spin.ph noted on our social media accounts that Ivan is actually related to Enrico, although a slight confusion arose since one reader said the two Villanuevas were cousins, while another maintained Ivan is the current Air21/NLEX center’s nephew.
To set the record straight, Spin.ph got in touch with Ivan to ask if they are indeed related. The former Letran Squire replied that he and Enrico are indeed, first cousins.
Even more interestingly, Ivan said their fathers are actually twins, with Enrico’s father Arnold older than Ivan’s father Arthur by just six minutes.
Incidentally, Ivan also admitted that he looks up to the same person he is being compared to this early in Rain or Shine big man Beau Belga, saying he tries to emulate the moves and style of the undersized but wide-bodied Gilas player.
“Idol ko talaga si Belga,” the 19-year-old Villanueva admitted. “’Yung set shot ko, parang ginaya ko ‘yung shot fake niya tapos drive to the basket. Idol ko talaga siya.”
Of course, Ivan said his real ‘idol’ is his cousin Enrico, who he said gave him timely advice ahead of his UAAP debut.
“Mas idol ko ‘yung pinsan ko siyempre. Sobrang close kami kasi nagbibigay siya ng advice sa akin. Kapag tumatawag ako sa kanya at nag-tetext. Kapag may family reunion, lagi siyang nandoon. Nagbibigay ng mga tips,” said the younger Villanueva.
Despite his impressive debut, Ivan was the first to admit that he still has a lot to improve. He acknowledges Adamson coach Kenneth Duremdes’ statements that he still has to work on his stamina.
Now at 266 pounds, Ivan is targeting to slim down to 240.
“Tumaas talaga ang timbang ko. Nag-wo-work out naman ako. Kailangang makasabay dahil college basketball na ‘yan,” said Villanueva.
But for someone who is still trying to work on his stamina, Ivan gave a good account of himself as he became one of the few bright spots for the Falcons in the opening-day loss to the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
“Kasi ang mindset ko, hindi ako ma-excite masyado sa game. Basketball lang naman ‘yung lalaruin. Naging ready lang ako sa mangyayari knowing na Ateneo is a big team sa UAAP, may history. Kaya binigay ko lang ‘yung one hundred percent ko,” said Villanueva.