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Rising Star: Kean Baclaan is ready for the spotlight

Let us give you a brief idea about Kean Baclaan: He is THAT guy.

WORDS by Miguel Caramoan

Let us give you a brief idea about Kean Baclaan: He is THAT guy.

In the past iterations of the SLAM Rising Stars Classic, the event featured a plethora of guards that have their stamps be known in the collegiate ranks and even in the international level. And if there could be someone in this year’s crop of players that can follow those footsteps, Kean Baclaan is a strong candidate.

For basketball enthusiasts, Baclaan had already raised eyebrows with his extreme upside, despite not being the tallest of guards. The offensive game he currently possesses has shown its flashes to become a three-level scorer (at the rim/mid-range/behind the arc), which makes him an interesting prospect.

To validate what the preceding statement had just suggested, the spitfire guard then received a training camp invite for the FIBA U17 World Cup back in 2018. We’re all sure what that entailed—Baclaan had the goods to keep up with the best young guards in the country.

This only made Baclaan motivated to put the work in and improve in the sport he truly loves. Unfortunately, an injury derailed his stay with Batang Gilas, but he is more than grateful for this golden chance to showcase his game.

“Once na-call up ako sa [Batang] Gilas, na-motivate talaga ako na pag-igihan pa dahil maraming players ang gusto maging part ng national team. Kaya nag-tiyaga talaga ako pumunta every practice, kaso na-MCL [injury] ako, kaya sayang na hindi ko natuloy ‘yung paglalaro ko,” Baclaan told SLAM Philippines.

After recovering from that debacle, Baclaan shifted his attention to the next gig ahead of him, which is to play for De La Salle Zobel in the UAAP Season 82 juniors division. There he was tasked to be the go-to-guy in his maiden year, where Baclaan averaged 16.4 points per game, which ranked fifth among the league.

Baclaan credits his coaches for giving him the ultimate green light and to become the leader of the squad. Also, he alluded to a player that he emulated the most and gave him ample advice on what it takes to compete at the highest level, which ironically is a former DLSZ stalwart and SLAM Rising Star as well.

Mino-model ko talaga ‘yung game ko kay Aljun Melecio. Lagi ako nanonood ng videos niya sa YouTube and kapag dumadaan siya sa practices namin, binibigyan niya ako lagi ng advice,” Baclaan said.

As Baclaan is about to play in the seniors division, he has switched turfs and will now suit up with the UST Growling Tigers. Even uncertainty loomed, with the departure of head coach Aldin Ayo, the belief and support of the university pushed him to stay foot.

With the current construction of the roster, the incoming freshman guard looks to seize the opportunity to contribute immediately in the upcoming season and help them contend for a Final Four slot.

Sa lineup kasi namin ngayon [UST], mas kailangan talaga ng tulong sa scoring, kaya lahat ng pwede ko ma-contribute ay gagawin ko para maiangat uli ang team,” Baclaan when he spoke about his role with the team.

The preparation of Baclaan and the Growling Tigers have started, with their participation in the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup and Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup. Familiarity would not be an issue for Baclaan, as he spent time with the team in their bubble set-up inside the campus.

Baclaan even bared that the UST’s Team B was given the assignment to make scouting reports for the team last season. It has helped him to see the court better and mesh well with his teammates.

Masaya ‘yung experience [in the bubble] kasi mga four to six months kami magkakasama at wala rin kami sasandalan kundi ang bawat isa. Sobrang humble pa ng seniors, like sila kuya Sherwin [Concepcion] and kuya Christian [Manaytay], kasi lagi nila ako sinasabihan,” Baclaan said.

All things aforementioned feels like enough to name Kean Baclaan the captain of Team Noyz in the SLAM Rising Stars, right? The experience he will bring to the table is what he is banking on, to steer them to victory in this tournament.

“As a point guard and sa tulong ng mga leagues na nalaruan ko na, excited ako na i-lead ang team [Noyz] namin and i-guide sila. No pressure naman sa amin, basta ipakita lang namin best dito,” Baclaan said, in response pertaining to him being named as team captain.

The hype surrounding Kean Baclaan since his high school days have been constant, and he has proven that it’s just and fair. The coming tournament might only serve as a glimpse of what’s coming, because he is prime to take the limelight and bound for stardom.

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[The 2022 SLAM Rising Stars Classic Tournament presented by ANTA tips off on July 30 at the Gatorade Hoops Center]