Padrigao hopes to build on past season’s gains

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Forthsky Padrigao
Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Thrust into a role that has long proven to be integral to the program’s success, Forthsky Padrigao hardly needed time to adjust and make and contribute for Ateneo.

In just his second year with the Blue Eagles, the lanky playmaker moved the needle, putting up 11.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and a league-best 2.4 steals for 71.571 statistical points, which was second only to eventual league Most Valuable Player Malick Diouf of the University of the Philippines.

Padrigao went on to earn a place in the Mythical Team and fill the shoes left by SJ Belangel, who turned pro in South Korea. And with the rate of his play, he could also become a steadying presence for Tab Baldwin’s crew that will try to keep Ateneo’s hold of the UAAP crown amid the specter of even more player departures.

For his part, Padrigao sounded like he already knows how to do just that.

“I intend to continue following coach Tab [Baldwin’s] guidance,” he told the Inquirer in a message. “I believe he needs a guy that can defend and can read the floor very well.

“I also intend to be a more consistent shooter both from the outside and the perimeter. Lastly, to work on my physicality, add some extra pounds and muscle,” he added.

Much of Padrigao’s business-like approach in the game was actually forged during his formative years at Ateneo de Zamboanga under the tutelage of Bobidick delos Santos. It was also during that time he met champion UP coach Goldwin Monteverde, who brought the youngster into his then-high school program at Adamson.

Padrigao, the only son to an average Zamboangueña couple, spent three years with the Baby Falcons before reuniting with Ateneo, where more doors opened for him. Among those was a stint with the Batang Gilas which eventually propelled his name to national prominence.

“Those experiences helped me grow as a player. They made me realize how much I still needed to learn and improve as a basketball player. I saw how people [at the international level] put in the work, which pushed me [to work] harder,” he said.

Padrigao credits his success thus far to his senior Jacob Lao and former Ateneo floor general Matt Nieto. The former’s improvement has been so evident that even LA Tenorio, one of those prolific guards that steered the school to UAAP glory, took notice.

“I can see so much potential in the kid,” he told the Inquirer. “He already has confidence, and sometimes it’s being misinterpreted as him being a ball hog.”

And Padrigao aims to build on his big year: “I just want to play great basketball for Ateneo every time I step on the hardwood,” he said.

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