Carl Tamayo relishes playing vs his idols in pro debut
UTSUNOMIYA — Carl Tamayo’s pro debut was far from noteworthy.
The former University of the Philippines star, who is now plying his trade in Japan, finished with just four points and two rebounds in Ryukyu’s win over San Miguel Beer in the East Asia Super League Champions week here.
It was a forgettable performance for a player designated as an import, and even more disappointing considering the Golden Kings coasted to the victory.
But Tamayo refuses to look at his outing that way.
“I was a bit nervous,” he said after nine minutes of play. “It’s my debut as a pro. Since I was young, it’s been my dream. Now this—first game as a pro.
“It’s pressuring, but you know, this is only the first of many,” he said.
Interestingly, that’s also how some of the Beermen see things.
“I’ve never seen Tamayo in college, but I’m actually surprised he can hold his own out there,” San Miguel assistant Dayong Mendoza, who is mainly responsible for the club’s scouting, told reporters in a chance encounter.
While his stats were hardly proof of it, Tamayo, versatile forward, looked like he belonged on the floor peppered with grizzled veterans.
There was even a moment in the third quarter where he dove and battled for the basketball against pesky Beermen guard Jericho Cruz.
“He was just making sure I’m OK and I appreciate that,” Tamayo said of the sequence. “(Those are) my kuyas and I looked up to them when I was young. Now, I’m playing against them.”
Tamayo said he would’ve also loved to go toe-to-toe against San Miguel’s cornerstone and six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, his boyhood idol.
“But he got injured. Hopefully, he’s OK and he could recover right away,” he said.
For now, he’ll continue focusing on making the most out of the chances with Ryukyu which he believes is his best path to further his growth as a basketball player.
“I think I’m on the right path to improve myself,” he said. “We have a great team. Great imports, great local players. I’m learning a lot from them,” he said.