Can Baclao continue personal title streak? | Inquirer Sports

Can Baclao continue personal title streak?

09:52 AM October 02, 2010
MANILA—As the surprise top pick of this year’s PBA rookie draft, Air21’s Siverino “Nonoy” Baclao knows his performance will be carefully scrutinized.
And the 6-foot-5 Baclao, the former Ateneo standout, is not only relishing the challenge of holding his own in Philippine basketball’s biggest stage, but also on continuing a winning streak that started seven years ago when he was still a reed-thin big man playing in age-group interbarangay tournaments in Bacolod City.    Every year since 2003, when his team triumphed in local leagues for two straight years, Baclao has not missed out on a championship. He led West Negros University to the University Games title in 2005 and the National Students Basketball Championship in 2006.   The year after he transferred to Ateneo, Baclao helped propel the Eagles to the Philippine Collegiate Champions League title in 2007, winning MVP honors in the tournament that gathers the top collegiate teams in the country.    Known for his defensive prowess, Baclao was also part of the Ateneo squad that won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. Despite limited minutes, he sparkled as a mid-season acquisition for the Philippine Patriots, who went on to bag the inaugural Asean Basketball League title.    “I can feel the pressure, but I’m ready and excited,” said Baclao on the eve of tip-off for the PBA’s 36th season.    When Baclao makes his debut against San Miguel on Friday, he will find a familiar and comforting sight in teammate Rabeh Al-Hussaini, his frontcourt partner at Ateneo.    “Rabeh and I are like brothers,” said Baclao in dispelling rumors that he has been at odds with Al-Hussaini, a conflict which some quarters believed intensified when Air21 picked Baclao ahead of Al-Hussaini in the draft.   “I am happy for him and I know he is happy for me,” he added.    The 6-foot-7 Al-Hussaini, himself, said he has moved on from the incident in the draft.    The Express, who have lost key players in recent years due to what was perceived as lopsided trades, signed the two rookie big men to maximum three-year deals and promised to make them the cornerstones of the rebuilding process in the franchise.    “I consider myself lucky to have my college teammate as one of my teammates in the pros because that rarely happens,” Al-Hussaini said.    Baclao acknowledged that it will be tough carrying his success from the barangay and the collegiate leagues to the PBA. But he also knows his dedication to his game will eventually pay off.    “I will continue to work hard, improve my game and do whatever it takes to help my team win,” said Baclao.

TAGS: Air21 Express, Basketball, Nonoy Baclao, PBA, Rabeh Al Hussaini

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