OF the many adjustments to be done from playing in the juniors to collegiate-level ball, on-court maturity does not seem to be one of them, at least for Mark Nonoy.
The University of Santo Tomas rookie unleashed a career-high 26 points and seven three-pointers to lead the Growling Tigers in a losing effort to Ateneo, 91-77, in the opening match of the UAAP men's basketball finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
UST coach Aldin Ayo could only commend Nonoy's impressive feat of team playmaking.
"Alam naman ng bata na ang role niya talaga is to set the plays and make his teammates better," said Ayo. "He was unconscious pero nandun pa rin siya sa gusto namin na maging playmaker siya. So he has to take those shots pag everytime na ma-open siya."
Even the opposite side of the court took notice of the 5-foot-8 rookie. Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin admitted that Nonoy could be a threat for the Blue Eagles.
"Mark Nonoy is obviously a problem, for us, not them. He played a tremendous game. He ran himself right into the ground. He was dead at the end of the game, that’s very courageous. He got a lot of respect for that. Our team has a lot of respect for their players and their coaching staff," Baldwin said.
Thirdy Ravena, who recorded a season-high 32 points, also weighed in and paid respect to Nonoy's impactful performance.
He said, "You can say na kahit may comfortable lead kami hindi pa rin namin ma-feel na comfortable siya kasi nakikita na sobrang bilis ng scoring UST, bilis ng transition. Lalo na si Mark. Mark really did a good job. Siya 'yung nagpahabol sa kanila nung first half."
Nonoy, however, reiterated that he's only doing his job as a team player, and he needed to deliver.
"Ginawa ko lang lahat kasi nahirapan 'yung first group namin, so kailangan naming mag-step up."