One look at Aaron Fermin and you can tell that he’s a prototypical big man.
At 6’5″ with a bulky physique, the Arellano Brave is reminiscent of traditional fours and fives in Philippine hoops. Think Alvin Patrimonio, Bong Hawkins, Jerry Codinera, Benjie Paras. Frontliners that earned their living in the shaded lane before the game evolved that required those on the floor to shoot from deep and run, regardless of size and position.
But in the world of high school hoops in the country, those like Aaron still stand out, given how quality big men are hard to find.
And in the NCAA Season 94 Juniors tournament, Aaron was expected to impose his presence in the paint. Especially that two of his biggest opponents — Mapua’s Will Gozum and Warren Bonifacio have moved on to the collegiate ranks. He was primed to be the tournament’s premiere big man.
He put up the numbers — 15.6 markers, 16.2 caroms and 1.2 blocks each game. Those MVP-like numbers legitimized his billing as an elite prospect.
But the rest of the team’s performance has left a lot to be desired. After opening the campaign with a perfect 3-0 record, the Braves went on a downward spiral that had Aaron hinting at disappointment.
“Hindi kami nakapasok sa Final Four. Sa akin, masakit talaga kasi gusto kong makapasok. Pero hindi nangyari dahil sa kinapos kami. Gusto ko kasi makaiwan ng pambawi sa Arellano kasi 2 season kaming malakas pero di umabot ng Final Four. Nakita ko kasi nung nag 3-0 kami nung first round, para naging overconfident na ‘yung team. Hinayaan nila, nangmamaliit na sila ng kalaban namin,” chimed Aaron.
His yeoman’s work didn’t go unnoticed as he was named to the NCAA’s Mythical Team and All-Defensive Team, even winning the season’s Defensive Player of the Year. But the hardware that he covets the most, which is the MVP, has again slipped out of his fingers despite him leading the statistical race.
“Masaya naman ako sa performance ko pero ‘yung mga individual awards na gusto ko ay di ko nakuha dahil hindi kami nakapasok sa Final Four,” he added.
Leaving behind his senior season of what-ifs, Aaron has now trained his attention at the next level as he’ll be donning the Adamson colors a few months from now. He is expected to shore a Falcons’ frontline thinned by the departures of Sean Manganti and Papi Sarr.
“Kaya ako nagcommit sa Adamson ay nakita ko na kulang sila sa big men, nakita ko na puwede ako dun kaya dun ako nagpunta. Kasi alam ko na magagamit ako, kasi hinahanap rin ni coach Franz (Pumaren) ang ganitong style ng laro ko na physical, may tira sa labas kaya kinuha na nila ako,” said Aaron.
The young big is also determined to continue doing hard work in order to bounce back from a subpar final year of HS hoops.
“Hindi ganun kadali na makabawi sa nangyari sa last HS season ko, kailangan paghirapan ang mga ganyang bagay para maabot natin,” ended Aaron.
The SLAM Rising Stars Classic will be held on March 31, 7PM to 9PM, at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong. The game will be aired on ABS-CBN Sports via livestream.