Ateneo big man Geo Chiu fits the mold of a gentle giant, much like his PBA idol June Mar Fajardo. Both soft spoken, respectful, incredibly tall, and have the talent for this basketball thing. For all their superficial similarities — I can guarantee — if the 18-year-old prospect had his way, it wouldn’t just be June Mar’s demeanor he emulates.
When asked what qualities of June Mar catches his eye, Geo doesn’t name a specific skill, instead he talks about the Kraken’s ability to take over games. Whether it be local stars, imports, or the best players representing other countries, June Mar’s propensity to shine no matter what opposition is in his way has captivated Geo.
That is the lofty ambition that Geo has set for himself as he continues his basketball journey.
“June Mar is one of the people who I really wanted to be when I was a kid,” Geo explained. “You can see that he could dominate the whole league, which is something that a basketball player would want.”
Geo, alongside fellow SLAM Rising Star Kai Sotto, terrorized the paint in the UAAP as one half of the twin tower front court configuration of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets. Geo says he is still slowly growing beyond his listed 6’8” frame, which was a terrifying proposition in the high school level. In his final season in the UAAP juniors, Geo averaged a near double-double with 9.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in a campaign that ultimately fell short of a championship ring.
This is a huge step forward from his 3.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game numbers from the season prior. Going into the college level, coaches will salivate at Geo’s potential as someone who could make a big difference.
The Ateneo youngster has yet to showcase flashes of a June Mar-level of domination. In fact, it might even be foolhardy to compare the two today. Yet we cannot deny that Geo has the raw tools to build on with the great upside he has shown on the court. While he still is a long way off from being mentioned in the same breath of his idol, his approach to the game will ensure that he will keep on getting better no matter what speed bumps he will run into during his career.
“What I learned from my juniors career is that in a game we never lose,” Geo said. “Because every time we lose, we continue improving and learn from our mistakes.”
It is no secret that coaches, players, and fans love winners. With Geo, you have a rising force in the game who will never lose.
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.