Ask the question who are the powerhouse squads in the NCAA Juniors, and the usual replies would be LSGH, Mapua and San Beda, with each school having won at least a championship and being a perennial contender year in, year out.
Mac Guadaña wants to change the narrative.
Coming from the Lyceum system, a program that has been overshadowed by the success of its counterparts at the collegiate level, the Cavite native has been making strides, and in the process letting people take notice not only of his game but of the Junior Pirates in general.
While his team wasn’t able to relish a playoff appearance in Season 94, Mac is nonetheless thankful at what they’ve achieved considering the rocky start to their campaign.
“Okay naman yung season, pero sa simula ay naguguluhan kami sa system. Pero buti nakapick-up kami kaya nag-end pa kami sa fifth place kahit papaano. Kasi nahirapan kami mag cope-up sa mga teams na may mga bagong players rin,” observed the swingman.
Yet, he is aware that there is still a lot to be done for the Lyceum Junior Pirates to be recognized as a legit competitor in the HS ranks.
“From the very start naman ay hindi kilala ang Lyceum, especially before ako pumunta, talagang walang panalo. Kaya sa akin, ginawa kong inspiration na kaya din namin umangat. Ginagawa ko siyang motivation para may mapatunayan kami,” added Mac.
Despite the pressure that comes with the territory, the 17-year-old nonetheless welcomes the challenge and acknowledging such in making him a better player in the process.
“Lagi namang may pressure. Pero ‘yung naramdaman ko is hindi naman paatras. Kumbaga ‘yung pressure sa akin ay more of excitement na makalaban ‘yung malalakas na team kasi nagiging challenging sila para sa akin,” says Mac.
One such game in which Mac and his squad proved that they can hang with the big boys is when they faced the Mapua Red Robins back in October. Against a proven contender, Mac dropped 26 points, six rebounds and four dimes in the upset win.
Such performances helped Mac gain attention not only in the NCAA, but also in terms of national duty, as he was part of the Batang Gilas side that saw action in the FIBA Under-17 Basketball World Cup last year. Something that he intends to become a part of in the long run.
“Sobrang blessed ako dun kasi pa-start pa lang kami (Lyceum HS) tapos nakita nila ako. Sobrang ganda ng experience na nakukuha ko sa paglalaro sa national team.Time will tell kung magiging fixture na ako sa mga national teams in the future, basta titiyagain ko lang,” shares Mac.
Still, Mac knows it’s still a long road ahead for him to become a household name in the future. With the approach that he’s been giving on the hardwood day in and day out, though, it won’t be long before he’ll be strutting his wares for a big-name program down the road.
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.