Written by Carl Argarin
Paolo Hernandez is on his rookie season. But he’s already proven that he is more than willing to do anything just to win a basketball game. Proof of it was in his first NCAA season where he balled out of his mind to help Mapua reach the Finals.
The versatile forward played like a veteran during the Final Four as he put up a career-high 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds and two steals. Because of that performance, the Red Robins reached their third consecutive Finals appearance where they met the defending champions, LSGH.
During the Finals, Paolo took his game to a whole new level. In the first game of the series he didn’t shy away from the spotlight, putting up 20 points and nine rebounds in a losing effort. They bounced back in the second game of the series and were able to stun the Greenies. Mapua push the series to a do-or-die game.
Paolo had an excellent games in the first two games. But it was on the third game where he showed why he’s Mapua’s new superstar. Paolo scored a new career-high 33 points to go along with his 12 rebounds and three steals. His monster performance sealed the championship.
Because of his amazing performance in the NCAA postseason, Paolo cemented his place as one of the elite high school players in the country.
The 20-year-old forward admitted that he never expected all this to happen so soon.
“Syempre na overwhelmed ako, sobrang saya, rookie year ko, SLAM agad.”
“Sobrang saya kasi makakasama ko, matitibay talaga sa UAAP, NCAA, sobrang malaki talagang exposure para sakin para sa next level.”
Paolo admitted that the idea of playing in the SLAM Rising Stars never crossed his mind and that his only goal is to play at the NCAA and be a champion.
“Ang gusto ko lang is maglaro sa NCAA at magchampion, so ito parang bonus nalang to.”
Despite being a fresh face, it is already evident that he is someone to watch out for. At the end of the day, it’s not about individual accolades for the young baller. Paolo’s willing to step up to the plate and deliver for his team when needed.
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.