Jonnel Policarpio, the 6’5” Kapampangan forward, is poised to breakout in the SLAM Rising Stars Classic Tournament.
Policarpio already has an array of trophies to his name from his early days in Mapua, but he isn’t done improving yet as the versatile forward has commited to the DLSU Green Archers for UAAP Season 85.
Policarpio has the skills and talent to compete with the best, especially in UAAP. His 6’10” wingspan and versatile playing style of playing the SG, SF, and PF spots make him a rare asset for La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren’s crew.
The SLAM Rising Stars Classic Tournament is a great opportunity for Policarpio to compete with the best high school prospects in the country. Being a probinsiyano is not easy for someone used to playing in “ligang labas” or mini-tournaments, but he looks forward to this challenge for the next phase of his career.
“It’s just about giving my best on the floor, playing basketball the right way, and wanting the fans to be proud of me while enjoying the game. Sobrang exciting ito dahil lahat magagaling dito…looking forward ako,” Policarpio told SLAM Philippines.
Policarpio is already an accomplished talent in his high school career thus far. He has an NCAA championship, a Rookie of the Year award, and a Mythical Five trophy to his name. This will be Policarpio’s second SLAM Rising Stars appearance and he can’t wait for what’s in store for this year.
He will be looking to sharpen his potential as defense will be his main emphasis heading into college. Coach Derrick is keen on playing tenacious defense as seen from his Green Archers finishing in the Final Four for the first time in five years.
“Kay Coach Derrick, gusto ko lang sundin ang mga sasabihin niya para hindi ako mawala sa training. Defense talaga ang importante sa kanya dahil kapag hindi ka tumakbo, hindi ka bibigyan ng mga minutes,” he said.
Policarpio already feels the changes in his playing style ever since he started training with the DLSU Green Archers in the pandemic. They had Zoom trainings in the past, but have recently transitioned to in-person training where an emphasis on defense and movement is key. He acknowledges the shift from being the focal point of the offense to earning his minutes together when he enters as a first-year player in UAAP Season 85.
“Gusto ko lang tumulong sa team next season. Nakita naman natin ‘yung depensa ng La Salle last season kasi susunod naman ‘yung opensa pagkatapos,” he said.
Right now, Policarpio is focused on the game at hand: the Rising Stars Tournament. He’s taking his final year in Mapua one day at a time to improve as a person, student, and athlete.
Playing in the UAAP is fun with the fans in the crowd, but that is just a thought down the line for Policarpio. He’s excited for the opportunity to compete with the best high school prospects in the country and even more so for what’s in store for him in college basketball.
[The 2022 SLAM Rising Stars Classic Tournament presented by ANTA tips off on July 30 at the Gatorade Hoops Center]