As if University of the Philippines needed more heroes in its bid to keep the crown, an unheralded protagonist has risen to the occasion and taken the limelight.
Sans injured starting point guard JD Cagulangan, the Fighting Maroons haven’t skipped a beat with a searing 3-0 start for the solo lead early in University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85, thanks to the stellar play of gunner Terrence Fortea.
The 6-foot-1 guard made the most out of his opportunity and stepped up big-time with averages of 14.7 points, 5.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and crisp 10-of-20 shooting from beyond the arc in three games.
On the strength of his breakout, Fortea emerged as the first Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week presented by the Philippine Sports Commission for Season 85.
“My mindset is that I need to step up for the team,” Fortea said.
The 21-year-old former National University standout kicked off his week with a previous career-best of 15 points, nine assists, and five boards as UP escaped De La Salle University with a 72-69 win before uncorking 12 points, five dimes, and three boards in their 87-78 overtime win over Adamson University.
There was no stopping him from there as he reset his career-high to 17 markers on a perfect 5-of-5 clip from downtown to tow UP to an unbeaten start after a 73-67 win over FEU to gain the nod of the group that is being supported by minor sponsors Jockey, Tinapayan Festival, and MNL Kingpin.
UP coach Goldwin Monteverde, also once the architect of the Bullpups’ dynasty in high school, lauded the meteoric rise of his prized guard with the hopes of forming a new and more lethal backcourt combo.
“Last season was a big adjustment for him in that position,” Monteverde said.
“But this season, I think he is slowly getting his playing time and improving, especially with JD out. Hopefully, they can play together when JD returns.”
Fortea edged out longtime teammate Carl Tamayo, La Salle’s Schonny Winston, Ateneo de Manila University’s Ange Kouame, University of the East’s Kyle Paranada, and University of Santo Tomas’ Nic Cabañero for the weekly award decided upon by print and online writers regularly covering the league.