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Ginebra's Thompson glad to inspire next generation of NCAA stars

MANILA, Philippines — Just three years ago, Scottie Thompson was etching his name in NCAA lore with a sensational campaign for University of Perpetual Help in his final season.

Thompson, together with Nigerian student-athletes Bright Akhuetie and Prince Eze, turned the Altas into a must-see team, thanks to their statistical exploits. While Akhuetie proved to be a scoring machine and Eze was a shot-blocking dynamo, it was Thompson who tied the team together with his all-around game.

The guard regularly churned out triple-doubles for the Altas, and his huge numbers propelled him to a place in the Mythical Team in Season 90. Unfortunately, they didn’t translate into enough wins for Perpetual Help and they missed the Final 4.

Still, his tremendous workrate gained the notice of PBA teams, and Thompson was drafted by Ginebra with the fifth pick of the 2015 Rookie Draft. 

Three years later, the 6-foot-1 guard is an integral part of the league’s most popular franchise, and recently won Finals MVP honors following their triumph in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

“Special ito, kasi nag-start kami sa conference ng 1-5,” Thompson said of their journey in the Commissioner’s Cup. “At the same time, 21 years na ‘di nakakapanalo ng championship sa Commissioner’s Cup (ang Ginebra).”

“Sobrang memorable nito sa amin. I think, ‘di ko talaga makakalimutan itong championship na ito,” he added.

He cannot quite match his stats in Perpetual Help just yet, but his efforts for Ginebra are nevertheless eye-popping. At least once every game, the guard will out-leap a much bigger player to snatch a rebound — a play that draws the biggest cheers from the barangay.

Thompson's performances for Ginebra are not going unnoticed in his old stomping grounds. Two days after Thompson helped the Gin Kings secure the Commissioner’s Cup crown, Robert Bolick of defending NCAA champion San Beda University said he was channeling his inner Scottie for the Red Lions. 

Bolick, known mostly for his clutch heroics, tallied 20 points and 11 rebounds in an 80-76 overtime win last Friday. Afterward, he pointed to his rebounding numbers, and said: “Kung kaya ni Scottie, kaya ko rin.”

“Si Robert, alam naman nating scoring (guard) talaga siya,” Thompson said Sunday, when informed of Bolick’s comment. “Go-to player siya sa San Beda. I think, nakakatuwa lang na ginagawa niya ‘yung best niya para sa team.”

“Sabi nga niya, nabasa ko na ‘yun ‘yung kulang niya as a player, so ginagawa niya ‘yun. Happy ako, kasi nai-inspire ko siya,” he added. “Kapwa Bisaya ko siya, kaya alam ko talagang pagta-trabahuhan niya lahat, kasi ganoon din ako eh.”

It’s not just Bolick that Thompson is inspiring, and this is a development that amazes the soft-spoken guard from Davao del Sur. He remembers when it was him who looked up to his PBA idols, and is thrilled that he can now serve as the same inspiration for the younger NCAA stars.

“Andoon ako sa paa nila dati, na may nilu-look up akong PBA players kapag naglalaro. Parang ang bilis lang ng panahon, at sobrang blessed na isa na ako sa nilu-look up nila as a player,” said Thompson.

“Sobrang blessed talaga, at honored na may opportunity na ganito sa akin,” he added. “Thankful (ako) talaga na naa-appreciate ng tao ‘yung ginagawa ko sa court. Nakaka-pressure sa akin, and then challenge kasi every time nagiging aggressive ako.”

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