The inspiration started a year ago.
Royce Alforque was part of the 2018 SLAM Rising Stars Classic. But he was just a spectator and not a player.
The FEU Baby Tamaraw came to support teammates RJ Abarrientos and LJ Gonzales who were part of that batch. Seeing the pair share the hardwood with the country’s top prep players left an impression on the young Cebuano guard.
“Pangarap ko lang ito dati, na makasama sa SLAM Rising Stars. Last year pinanuod ko lang ‘yung mga teammates ko na sina RJ (Abarrientos) at LJ (Gonzales). Parang naisip ko na sana makasali rin ako dito. Kaya naginvest ako, ginawa ko ang lahat para makalaro dito,” recalls Royce.
Despite Season 93 being LJ’s swan song, the Baby Tamaraws maintained their strength in the backcourt, thanks to Royce stepping in to form a lethal three-headed backcourt together with RJ and Xyrus Torres. Incidentally, the solid play of this trio allowed them to all become part of this year’s SLAM Rising Stars Classic.
RJ may have been the most known of the three, given the familiar surname and background with the Philippine 3×3 team. But Royce himself had bursts of excellence throughout UAAP Season 94, such as dropping 26 points and 7 boards against fellow Rising Star, Mark Nonoy and the UST Tiger Cubs.
So confident was Royce with his game and his team, that he expressed disappointment when they fell short. even though they wer up against the defending champions Ateneo Blue Eaglets in the semifinals.
“Sa tingin ko deserve namin manalo kasi pinaghirapan namin lahat. Maganda ‘yung triaining namin , akala namin maiiextend pa yung Final Four (against Ateneo). Nahirapan kami kay Kai (Sotto),” muses Royce.
With his UAAP Juniors’ days over, Royce reflects back on his HS career.
“Dami kong natutunan dito sa FEU. It was a great experience. Kasi hindi lang sa basketball ‘yung tinuturo. Pati na rin sa real life na haharapin mo everyday,” he shares.
Although he already possesses a scorers’ mentality, Royce admits he still has some facets of his game that needs polishing to be in tuned with the college game.
“Kelangan ko iimprove yung aking decision-making at outside shooting. Pinag-prapraktisan ko naman so pagdating ng seniors ay hindi na ako mahihirapan,” discloses Royce.
He may not have a collegiate team yet, but Royce discloses that he is already training with the FEU seniors’ team. Should he be given the chance to be part of the roster, he is looking forward to become part of the program’s winning tradition.
“Yun ang kailangan namin, ‘yung winning attitude para pag grow mo both as a professional and a person, ay madadala mo pagdating ng panahon,” shares Royce.
It may still be early, but given his dedication and demeanor, it won’t be far-fetched to later on see Royce following in the footsteps of Johnny Abarrientos, Denok Miranda and Celino Cruz, heralded floor generals who donned the Green and Gold back in the day.
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.