UAAP: NU rookie Figueroa has a lot more to show says Napa
MANILA, Philippines—National University head coach Jeff Napa believes the best is yet to come for rookie Jake Figueroa after showing a glimpse of his capabilities to lead the Bulldogs this UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament.
Figueroa, the UAAP Season 82 juniors MVP out of Adamson high school, made the most of his limited minutes to help the Bulldogs in surviving his former team, Falcons, 71-69, for their first win on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-2 forward, who tallied seven points on 3-of-7 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds, two assists and a steal in 16 minutes and 19 seconds of play, admitted he felt first game jitters, seeing action in his first seniors game coming off a two-year layoff caused by the pandemic.
“I really felt the pressure since this is my first time to play in the seniors level and at the same time I played my former school in the juniors,” said Figueroa, who averaged 13.2 points, 14.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.4 blocks in 27 minutes in Season 82 juniors.
“I just did my best to step up for my team and leaned on the system of my coaches,” he added.
Napa, who was promoted as head coach in the off-season, understood his rookie is still making his adjustments but he’s glad that his young wards are living up to his expectations.
“I know Jake’s capabilities. I think he is still adjusting since this is his first game in college level. He’s still a rookie but I’m happy that he is living up to my expectations,” said Napa shortly after his first win as NU head coach.
“I’m so happy to have him on our team. Jake Figueroa played limited minutes but he showed a glimpse of what he is capable of.”
Besides Figueroa, Napa was also glad for his other rookie Janjan Felicilda, who stayed with NU despite his former high school teammates like the trio of Carl Tamayo, Terrence Fortea and Gerry Abadiano transferring to University of the Philippines.
The Nazareth School standout rose to the occasion on his seniors’ debut with team-high 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“I’m also lucky to have Janjan. He has the heart of a Nationalian. Not only him and Jake. All our rookies, veterans and sophomores gave their best today,” Napa said.
Although his team is still a work in progress after blowing a 38-28 lead at the half, Napa can’t wait to bring out the best of his young team moving forward.
“As the tournament goes on, they will see a lot from these two (rookies) and the rest of our guys in our upcoming games,” he said.
The Bulldogs resume their season against La Salle on Tuesday.
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