|Paul Varilla, Derrick Pumaren and Bonbon Batiller during yesterday's post match press con.|
Talking about UE's Bonbon Batiller and Fran Yu
by rick olivares
Two summers ago, I was writing an article about the Holy Trinity College Wildcats (out of General Santos City) and was interviewing them inside the locker room of the Filsports Flying V Arena when Derrick Pumaren walked in to talk to their head coach Paul Torrijos about Edson Batiller, their young player.
At that time, I was raving about Chris Masaglang (click on the link) who played like Purefoods' PJ Simon.
It was obvious that Batiller was being recruited and everyone in the room was happy about that. While Bonbon was good, he wasn't even the best on that team. The others, Masaglang included, were going to be over-age after they served their residency so there was no point in recruiting them. Batiller was the best option (he has two more playing years after this season). Digressing a moment, read this piece that I wrote about the HTC Wildcats (click on the link) during that summer tourney.
Bonbon was Pumaren's first recruit for UE. He was good but the kid had to adjust. During the summer Filoil tournament, the 5'11" shooting guard struggled mightily to score much less find his game. But as the tournament wore on, he found his range and even won one game for them. Since that match
This year, in three games thus far, Batiller is averaging 21.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 4.0 steals, 1.6 turnovers in 23 minutes of playing time! Those are incredible numbers for this kid from General Santos City.
In the post-match press con after UE's 89-78 win over Adamson, Pumaren expressed no surprise at what Batiller is contributing for his team. He saw this in the Filoil tourney two years ago. Batiller for his part dismissed his game as "chamba." Of course, he is being very modest.
Talking to Batiller after the match (we had become friends since that summer following the HTC Wildcats), he said that he oft talks to his former teammates from Gen San who always watch him on television. "Lagi nila akong tinutukso," said Bonbon. "Tapos tinataning nila kung may girlfriend na ako na taga-Manila. Sabi ko, 'basketbol muna.'"
Did they believe him?
"Hindi." We both laughed.
Same old kulitan.
Batiller's other UE teammate, Fran Yu, is proving that he has a place in the college game. Two years ago, he was overshadowed by Chiang Kai Shek Blue Dragons teammate JV Gallego who will be suiting up for NU next season. I thought that despite his skinny frame, he was a terrific one-on-one defender who could drive hard to the basket and pass. In his senior year for CKSC, he improved his shooting at CKSC won the MMBL title. It should be noted that during Yu's junior year, CKSC won six high school titles. In his last year, they won two or three more championships.
When he was recruited to UE, he was initially slated to spend one year on Team B to bulk up and gain some experience. When it became apparent that Danger Dan Alberto was not going to make it back from an injury that knocked him out midway of the pre-season, Yu was elevated.
His stat line of 8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 3 TOs show that he can play. Expect more from him and UE guard Philip Manalang.