The SLAM Rising Stars Classic aims to bring together 24 of the best high school players in the country in an all-star game game where they can showcase their talent. Started in 2014, the SLAM Rising Stars Classic has been a stepping stone for some of the best players in the collegiate leagues today.
During the opening weekend of Season 80, there were several alumni of the Rising Stars Classic that have emerged as the leading players of their respective teams. Here are the best SLAM Rising Stars alumni of the UAAP Season 80 opening weekend.
Honorable Mentions (SLAM Rising Stars batch in parenthesis)
Prince Rivero, DLSU (2014) – 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
Arvin Tolentino, FEU (2014) – 7 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block
Noah Webb, UP (2015) – 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks
5. Wendell Comboy, FEU (2015) – 13 points, 3 three-pointers (43% 3PFG), 3 assists
One could argue that Wendell Comboy got lost amidst all the talented guards of the 2015 SLAM Rising Stars batch. He wasn’t as explosive or as flashy as some of his batch mates. But taking a look back at how he played, Comboy was a steady presence on both ends of the floor. He showed the same kind of steadiness in the fourth quarter when the FEU Tamaraws were making their comeback against the DLSU Green Archers. He hit crucial outside jumpers and used his long arms to limit his defensive assignments. FEU fell short in the end, but Comboy was a bright spot in that loss.
4. Jolo Mendoza, ADMU (2015, 2016) – 14 points, 3 three-pointers (75% 3PFG)
Jolo Mendoza was a scorer in the high school level. He’s someone that could heat up in a matter of seconds and really change the flow of a game because of his shot-making ability. Mendoza was a streaky shooter last season. There were games when he was ineffective but also some where he put up points in bunches. He found his stroke early in the game and helped Ateneo pull away from Adamson early. When they needed his scoring to pull away late, he also delivered, hitting shots from outside to help the Blue Eagles rebuild their big lead.
3. Andrei Caracut, DLSU, (2015) – 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Andrei Caracut was the most polished scorer in the 2015 SLAM Rising Stars Classic. He used savvy and basketball IQ to get his points, always knowing which move to use given the situation he was in. Last season, Caracut got lost in the shuffle. He wasn’t able to get solid minutes with the new system and rotation of Coach Aldin Ayo. This season, he made sure to make a strong impact in the first game. He supported fellow Rising Star alum Aljun Melecio by scoring in crucial moments in the game. Just like he did in the Rising Stars game two years ago, Caracut was hitting floaters, three-pointers and midrange bank shots in the same smooth manner.
2. Thirdy Ravena, ADMU (2014) – 20 points (47% FG), 10 rebounds, 2 assists
Last year, Thirdy Ravena returned to the line-up and was expected to be the main man for a revamped Ateneo team. While there were flashes of the superstar ability he showed in the 2014 Rising Stars game, for the most part, he was a cog in the overall machine that was the Blue Eagles last year. In the very first game of Season 80, Ravena showed how he can be the go-to guy of Ateneo while still playing within the system. He was used as a point forward and he really flourished with the ball in his hands. Ravena attacked the basket relentlessly and it led to more openings for the rest of the team. He was patient in letting the play develop but when things weren’t going well, he had the ability to take over. Ravena has done this before. Now it’s just a matter of doing it consistently.
1. Aljun Melecio, DLSU (2015, 2016) – 29 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
A lot has already been said about Aljun Melecio’s phenomenal opening game performance. But to those that watched the 2016 SLAM Rising Stars MVP, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s a killer on the offensive end. He’s fast, fearless and skilled when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop. With Ben Mbala out playing in the FIBA Afrobasket, Coach Aldin Ayo went back to a familiar playbook, the one he used in his time in Letran. He utilized Melecio the same way he did Mark Cruz back in the NCAA. It paid off as Melecio went off in the first half, dropping 20 points on the Tamaraws. Melecio was like Cruz on steriods. He was faster, more atheltic and more explosive. That helped him break down whatever defense was thrown his way. It’s only his second year, but based on this game, Melecio is poised for a break out year in Season 80.