The Fil-Am rookie sensation of the De La Salle University Green Archers is off to a great start in UAAP Season 84.
Deschon “Schonny” Winston is a former US NCAA player whose playing style is all about energy and effort that ultimately leads to championships. He will be the last person to want the “Best Player of the Game” award if it means bringing home La Salle’s first title since 2017. It’s all about winning.
“Being in the Philippines has been fun. We have been in the bubble, but my teammates have really welcomed me with open arms. We are focused and are continuing to build a winning culture within the locker room,” Winston told SLAM Philippines.
Winston is a Fil-Am who originally played in the US with the Central Michigan Chippewas. He’s matched up against the likes of Lonzo Ball, LaMelo Ball, and Li’Angelo Ball during their Chino Hills days to prepare himself as a professional athlete.
If US basketball allowed him to showcase his skills with wider spacing and man-to-man defense, his first games in the UAAP thus far have shown how passionate Filipinos are about the game and their attention to detail on defense.
“Here you see how tough and passionate Filipinos are with basketball. You may be up against an opponent by 20-plus points, but they are still able to come back and stay in the game,” said Winston.
Life in the Philippines has been great for Winston. They have been in the bubble in line with UAAP regulations, but he has been loving the team bonding together with his Green Archer teammates ever since they formed together in January.
He would credit his longtime friend and TNT Tropang Giga guard Mikey Williams for helping him adjust to life in the country as they have been exchanging messages on Filipino culture, Philippine Basketball playing style, and some Tagalog words along the way.
The De La Salle Green Archers are off to a hot start in UAAP Season 84 , but Winston looks at the season as a marathon. He acknowledges that there are expectations for the loaded Green Archers squad, but they also have to be realistic as a team to take things one game at a time. La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren has done an excellent job instilling back the winning culture for the school in Taft and players are slowly buying into the system.
Winston had one of the best debuts for a UAAP Men’s Basketball tourney ever with 22 points, six rebounds, three steals, and an assist. The most important statistic: a win. He did not notice the stat line he was putting up against the UE Red Warriors. His mentality was just to play hard and have fun.
The first game of the season can be an exciting one and all he wanted to do was to not stress, be mentally tight, and keep his body loose. Their routine has been fairly stable ever since the UAAP bubble with a mix of light workouts, shootarounds, heavy practices, and cool down sessions, which add to their preparations heading into the season.
“Our routine has been fairly stable ever since we entered the bubble. I always want to keep my body and mind in check to prepare for the challenges of the day. It helps me to stay humble and focus on the task at hand,” he said.
Crowds will soon be coming back to watch UAAP games and that is the number one thing he is looking forward to in the coming weeks. Winston is an adrenaline player and gets more energy when the crowd is cheering for the Green Archers or heckling them from the sidelines. This is the thrill the players miss the most in the two weeks they have
started games in the Mall of Asia Arena, but it is wonderful to see normalcy once again.
Winston has heard all the talk about the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry from his teammates and social media. They have mentioned to him how students and professors would go to the arenas over classes for the matchup. The rivalry would usually be the talk of the town leading up to the weekend clash around arenas. Stakes are especially higher this time with the Blue Eagles being the champions for the past three years now and the Green Archers looking like early title contenders thus far.
The stage is set for Winston to have a great season in the UAAP. He may have two years of eligibility to maximize his potential in the league, but he has proven that he is ready for bigger challenges ahead. He has his eyes focused on a UAAP Season 84 championship and will not stop until that is realized. The field is definitely tough with the reloaded UP Fighting Maroons, the rejuvenated FEU Tamaraws, and the defending champions the Ateneo Blue Eagles, but those will not stop the DLSU Green Archers from having a shot at the title.
It is the early days, but the future is bright for Deschon Winston to shine in Manila.
(Art by Aljan Cuya; cover photo from UAAP Media)