MANILA, Philippines – It says a lot about the talent of Troy Mallillin that he made it to the Ateneo de Manila University’s final roster for UAAP Season 80, despite joining the team late in the preseason.
The 6-foot-3 Mallillin, a product of La Salle Greenhills, was all set to join De La Salle University before leaving Taft in May. Two months later, he was confirmed to be practicing with the Blue Eagles, and saw action for them in the preseason tournaments.
The athletic forward earned a spot in Tab Baldwin’s final 16-man roster, although he barely played in Season 80. Mallillin played in only eight games, averaging 4.6 minutes per contest.
Yet as he exited the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday with a gold medal around his neck, Mallillin was adamant that he made the right decision to go to Katipunan instead of staying in Taft.
“Oo, tama,” he said, even as he did not play in any Ateneo’s three finals games against La Salle. “Kasi choice ko ‘yun eh. Sarili ko ‘yun. Choice ng parents ko ‘yun, choice ko ‘yun.”
“At least, nag-champion kami,” he added.
Besides, Mallillin noted that even though he was on the bench for most of the season, he still learned plenty from Baldwin and the Ateneo coaching staff.
“Natutunan kong maging professional basketball player, kasi si Coach Tab, ganoon eh. Gusto niya maging professional basketball player kami, and hindi lang individual, maging team, team player,” he explained.
Certainly, bigger things are in store for Mallillin. While he mostly saw garbage time minutes in Season 80, he will likely play a bigger role for the team next season, especially as the graduation of skipper Vince Tolentino opened up a spot in their frontcourt.
Still, the young forward said he is not taking anything for granted and vowed to work for everything.
“Lahat ng kailangan i-improve, i-improve ko,” said Mallillin, who won MVP honors in the NCAA Season 92 juniors tournament and became a highly touted recruit in the process. “Kailangan ko talaga pagtrabahuhan, para next year.”
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