Next in line – the 2016 SLAM Rising Stars Classic

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Punks 103 – Hype 98

In the third annual SLAM Rising Stars Classic held at the Gatorade Hoops Center last Sunday night, the top high school basketball players of the Metro strutted their stuff and gave us a glimpse of the future of Philippine hoops.

The next generation of college players, and potentially the next superstars of the country, came out to play.

Team Punks produced a hard-fought 103-98 victory over Team Hype with De La Salle Zobel star Aljun Melecio earning MVP honors.

“Super blessed ako na naging kalaban ko sila at naging teammates,” the future Green Archer said about the young talented players of the Classic. “’Di lahat makakakuha ng ganitong experience. Sobrang saya ng game.”

Melecio scored 12 points including a nasty step-back three-pointer over some pressure defense of Xavier School standout and future Ateneo Blue Eagle Tyler Tio in the dying moments of the game. “Nakita ko na eh. Pag sumunod siya sabi ko i-sstep back ko to,” he gleefully said.

The game was close for four quarters as there were incredibly skilled players on both squads. Joining Melecio were La Salle Greenhills star Ricci Rivero, NCAA Finals MVP Evan Nelle, and UAAP Mythical 5 member Juan Gomez De Liano.

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Nelle showed why he was named the Finals MVP as he caught fire in the fourth period. He swished home two straight triples, one of which even borderlined Steph Curry distance. High-flying Rivero meanwhile displayed his athleticism throughout the game plus his insane hops when he had a breakaway dunk.

The crowd was also treated to some in-game celebratory moves with Juan Gomez De Liano putting up the infamous “dab” every time he knocked down a three. After the game, he explained that the dab was a “ritual.” He was 3-for-3 from deep so he dabbed three times!

The game was light and fun, but the level of competition was still pretty high. These are after all, the best of the best and everyone wanted to showcase their skills.

“Yung level ng game kanina parang college basketball na,” Melecio pointed out. “So parang yung game kanina nabigyan ako ng taste ng college basketball.”

“It’s an honor just to be chosen for this game. Playing with those guys – I really have to step up my game because the level of competition is really high. It’s the best of the best in high school so I’m just glad I was able to do something for my team,” ADMU commit Tyler Tio said.

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Tyler had 16 points and four steals for Team Hype. UAAP Season 78 champion John Lloyd Clemente took on the bulk of the scoring load for his team, amassing 23 points, while ADMU-bound Gian Mamuyac contributed with 13.

“Nakita naman natin kung pano sila mag compete against each other,” former NU Bulldog Troy Rosario said. Talagang bata pa lang sila nagco-compete na talaga sila.” Rosario was a guest assistant coach for Team Punks together with former Letran Knight Kevin Alas. For Team Hype, they had Alaska players Chris Banchero and Tony De La Cruz on the sidelines.

“Sinabi ko na enjoy lang nila yung game kasi time nila to eh. Kumbaga all-star [game] nga pero play their game. May mga scouts dyan sa college. Sinabi ko lang na laruan nila yung laro nila kasi mapapansin talaga sila,” Rosario added.

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All smiles and jokes filled the Gatorade Hoops Center when the final buzzer sounded. Old friends, teammates, and even school rivals shook hands and exchanged their thoughts after the game.

“The whole game was fun. It’s not every day you get to play with the best players in high school,” beamed Tio.

The 2016 SLAM Rising Stars Classic was a night filled with young amazing talent, a ton of potential, and a bright hope for the future. These kids will take over the Pinoy basketball scene soon enough.

Scores:

Punks 103 – Gomez de Liano 16, Nelle 15, Melecio 12, Abadeza 12, Rivero 10, Baltazar 9, Ildefonso 9, Concepcion 7, Paraiso 5, Dela Torre 4, Bordeos 2, Ong 2

Hype 98 – Clemente 23, Tio 16, Mamuyac 13, Enriquez 10, Abu Hijle 7, Gomez de Liano 6, Andrade 5, Roman 5, Pagsanjan 5, Sario 4, Tibayan 4