Written by Carl Argarin
Standing at 6’4″ with a 6’9″ wingspan, the Mapua Red Robins’ Jonnel Policarpio could be the next “Spider-Man” in the Philippine basketball scene. He already introduced himself as one of the elite high school players in the country in just his first year.
The rookie made his debut in the last NCAA season, where right away, he made a positive impact. He impressed, despite having the immense pressure to fill the void that former MVP Will Gozum and Mythical selection Warren Bonifacio left.
The 16-year-old forward won the rookie of the year award in the NCAA season 94 Juniors Division and was a huge reason why Mapua won their second title in three years after reclaiming the crown from La Salle Greenhills in their finals rematch.
Jonnel has the potential to follow in Arwind Santos’ footsteps. He plays the same position and hails from Pampanga as well. But more than that, it’s because of his incredible length and athleticism. Both of them have a knack for battling for the rebounds despite their skinny frame. Both are great rim protectors, using their long wingspan to deter shots.
Because of his performance in the NCAA, he turned a lot of heads and was named as a SLAM Rising Star in just his rookie year. He admitted that he did not expect to reach this milestone of his career because of his background.
“Di ko ineexpect to kasi galing lang akong ligang labas, tapos public school lang kaya nag papasalamat ako sa coach ko na nakuha ako sa Mapua tapos nabigyan pa ko ng opportunity na to.”
He added, “Malaking opportunity na maging kakampi ko si RJ Abarrientos, Kai Sotto, maraming batang may gusto nito pero ako nandito.”
Despite being a first timer in the exhibition game, the athletic rookie promised that they will be competitive and that fans will enjoy the game.
“Bibigyan namin ng magandang laban, bakbakan talaga para sa mga manonood tsaka sumusuporta.”
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.