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Padrigao blocks out ‘outside noise’


Forthsky Padrigao drew praises from Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin following his heroic opening-day performance in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 men’s basketball tournament.

Padrigao showed nerves of steel when he calmly drained a crucial trey to shut down the late uprising of Far Eastern University that allowed the Blue Eagles to escape with a 79-70 victory last Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Look, if there’s a person that says they know anything about basketball in the country, in the Philippines, and they don’t know Forthsky Padrigao’s name before this game, well then they’re lying. They don’t know anything about basketball,” Baldwin said of his starting guard.

The mentor lauded the mental toughness and hard work displayed by the 20-year-old playmaker, who has taken the role of Ateneo’s court general following the departure of SJ Belangel.

“This kid’s been a winner, a champion. He’s a tough guy. He’s the dirtiest player I have on the team,” Baldwin added.

“You can strip him down and there’s no fear there, and he loves the moment.”

Grateful as he was for the kind words from his mentor, Padrigao would rather not be distracted by flattering praises and other “outside noise.”

All he wants to do, he said, is to play his role in the Blue Eagles’ goal of reclaiming the title they lost to University of the Philippines five months ago.

“I’m just trying to lead my team and whatever role Coach Tab wants me to play. I’m just focusing on my team. The outside noise, I do not care about that,” said Padrigao, who submitted a neat stat line of 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting including three three-pointers, grabbed six rebounds, dished out seven assists, and had two steals in 27 minutes of play.

Padrigao shone the brightest when the Tamaraws were making a run late in the payoff period, trimming down a once comfortable 14-point lead by Ateneo to just 75-70 with 68 seconds left on the clock in a scorching run led by FEU’s Patrick Sleat.

With Ateneo needing a decisive basket to keep the Tamaraws at bay, Padrigao took matters into his own hands by swishing a huge trey with 38.5 seconds left which sealed the fate of FEU of bowing yet again to the Blue Eagles in their head-to-head duel dating back to 2018.

Padrigao’s impact was greatly felt in the second half where he scored or assisted on 32 of the 49 points tallied by the Blue Eagles in the last two quarters after scoring just six points in the second period.

Still, the spunky do-it-all guard said that it was just one game and more challenges await him and Ateneo as the season progresses.

“I told myself before this season just to face any challenge that comes my way and try to overcome it,” he said.

“For me, it’s still a learning process because it’s my first year to start for our team. It’s all about accepting all the challenges and trying to overcome (them).”

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