UST Growling Tigers pin their fortunes on Fortuna
MANILA—If there was one person the UST Growling Tigers trust to take the last shot, with the clock winding down and the game on the line, it’s the diminutive playmaker Jeric Marco Fortuna.
Small as he is, Fortuna is the cornerstone of the Growling Tigers’ sound start in the 74th season of the UAAP, norming roughly 15 points per game and a handful of assists.
But as UST reeled to its third straight loss, Fortuna remains the brightest spot in the Tigers rotation—often single handedly carrying his squad, ever in a losing effort.
In the whipping the Tigers suffered in the hands of Ateneo, Fortuna scored 18 hard-earned markers and refused to give up even if they played catch up for most of the game.
But truth is, Fortuna wasn’t always the hometown hero all of the Thomasians look up to today.
Filling in for the veteran playmaker Japs Cuan, Fortuna—a converted point-guard—was once the trigger-happy rookie who loses the ball more than he actually makes a shot.
In several occasions, his once questionable shot selection down the stretch cost the then-rebuilding Tigers some crucial games and left some hopefuls wishing he hadn’t touched the ball.
“He (Fortuna) just had rookie jitters,” said the wisecrackinghead coach of the Tigers, Pido Jarencio.
“But it was good that he was given a break because of Cuan’s injury,” Jarencio added.
Fortuna’s transition to a real point guard wasn’t a walk in the park. But indeed, the dependable skipper of the hungry UST squad has come a long, fruitful way.
“He’s already made,” said Jarencio of Fortuna, who has blossomed into an even deadlier shooter with a real vision of a playmaker.
The 19-year-old Fortuna thinks of the hardcourt as his safe haven. But not everyone gets to translate this familiarity of the game into a solid, overall performance.
To announce his coming of age, Fortuna fired eight three pointers to notch a personal record of 29 points in the 87-81 win over University of the Philippines last season.
A year after, he did it again, powering the Tigers to a maiden 73-72 victory against the NU Bulldogs highlighted by a clutch three pointer, six points in overtime for a stunning 23-point explosion.
Which, actually, only prove sone thing in the cutthroat world of college basketball: “He’s one of the best point-guards in the UAAP right now,” stressed Jarencio.
But here’s the catch. Fortuna is not yet done improving, and this season he’s hoping to take the Growling Tigers along with him to the top.
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