MARCK Espejo can definitely give basketball slam-dunk artists a serious run for their money.
And yes, he’s into volleyball.
The 6-foot-3 Espejo impressed a lot with his leaping ability and power attacks as he led the Ateneo Blue Eagles to a four-set win over National University Bulldogs in Game One of the UAAP Season 77 men’s volleyball finals on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Espejo erupted for a season-high 31 points in the 25-19, 30-28, 20-25, 25-22 win that put the Katipunan-based school on the brink of a breakthrough championship in the league.
But Espejo admitted basketball played a big part in developing his jumping skills as he trained for countless hours at the Sta. Elena High School in Marikina City by trying to reach up for a basketball goal.
“‘Yung goal namin (sa basketball), may ring doon. Ang goal namin, ring muna, every training. Hanggang sa maabot namin ‘yung board, tapos ‘yung ring, tapos dalawang kamay sa ring. Training lang,” disclosed Espejo, who just turned 18 last March 1.
It also helped a lot that he started to grow up just as he was about to finish high school.
“High school ako, maliit po kasi ako. Tumangkad lang ako nung fourth year,” said Espejo.
The talented player said he doesn’t know how high his vertical leap is. But when asked to compare his leaping ability to that of Ateneo basketball star Kiefer Ravena, Espejo said, “Kung vertical (leap), siguro siya nga (ang mas mataas). Kapag, pa-forward, siguro ako po.”
During high school days, Espejo said he used to cross-train with different sports including basketball.
But once he established a career in volleyball, basketball finally took a backseat.
“Ngayon hindi na, kasi takot na eh,” Espejo said with a smile.
With his focus solely on volleyball, Espejo readily showed what he can do after being named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the Year at the same time in his first year with the Blue Eagles last season.
In Season 77, he remains on track to winning a second straight MVP plum.
Espejo, however, stressed the individual awards can wait as he is actually eyeing the ultimate prize – the coveted UAAP championship.
“All out na. Kailangan, start pa lang gumawa agad ng tama, always do our best, and all out,” Espejo said.