With under 24 seconds left and the score tied at 89-all against San Beda in the 2019 NBTC semis, Gerry Abadiano received the inbound off a timeout and began to dribble down the clock. A second straight finals berth was at stake.
When the the clock struck six, Gerry made his move: he faked a pick with a nasty crossover, then dribbled toward the lane before stopping on a dime –– shrugging off the tight defense with a slight bump –– and launched his patented pull-up jumper.
Swish. Gerry called game, coming up huge in yet another pivotal moment.
The NU Bullpups went on to make history with their second consecutive NBTC title, with Gerry notching his second straight mythical five selection in the process (he won Finals MVP in 2018). It was another milestone for the well-decorated guard, adding to his long list of accolades which includes a Batang Gilas stint in the U-17 World Cup, and most recently, a UAAP Juniors Championship. Gerry averaged a team-leading 15.9 PPG with 4.9 RPG and 2.6 APG in UAAP Season 81 –– good for a sixth-place finish in the MVP race.
The numbers only provide a glimpse on Gerry’s versatile talent. His offensive game, despite recently turning 18 in March, is much more advanced than his most ball-handlers his age. He’s a threat both inside and out, but what stood out is his veteran guile navigating the pick-and-roll. Gerry has an innate understanding of timing, knowing how to prod opposing defenses with changes of speed and crafty dribble moves.
Gerry’s game resembles that of Jericho Cruz –– especially the manner the TNT guard fearlessly attacks the rim and pulls-up for jumpers. (Gerry himself mentioned the comparison: “Daming nagsasabi na [similar] kami sa paglaro.”)
Despite his steady output, his game doesn’t garner as much attention compared to his flashier teammates; Terrence Fortea’s scoring outbursts and Steph Curry-like triples have gained virality, while the combination Carl Tamayo’s raw talent and 6’8” frame has him widely regarded as the best prospect from the stacked crop of Bullpups. Gerry’s ability to dissect pick-and-roll defenses and convert mid-range jumpers, though impressive, don’t get the retweets.
Yet, the soft-spoken guard doesn’t seem to care about generating attention for himself as one of the best high school players in the country. The Bullpups’ Team Captain instead lets his production on the court do the talking. Gerry is unfazed by whatever situation he encounters, whichever defender he comes across, or whichever team he faces. He is instead focused one one thing: giving his all between the lines.
“’Di ko iniisip kung sino, or kung malakas ‘yung kalaban,” Gerry said on his mentality every time he steps on the court. “Manalo o matalo, wala akong regret kasi nagbibigay ako ng 100%.”
Gerry will surely be a highly-coveted prospect when he makes the leap to the college ranks. But that’s not on his mind right now.
With his final season with the Bullpups approaching, Gerry is instead focused on bringing another title to his school. “Siyempre dahil last season ko, gusto naming makuha yung championship ulit. ‘Di ko iniisip ‘yung college. This year muna,” Gerry explained.
Repeating as champions is never easy, but having a composed and crafty scorer and leader like Gerry Abadiano eases the burden, especially in the most critical moments –– no matter the score or time left on the clock.
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.