Once the most hotly recruited high school star in the country, Arvin Tolentino gets a new lease on his college basketball life after moving to reigning UAAP champion FEU.
Tolentino, who failed to meet Ateneo’s academic standards, picked the Tamaraws from a list of suitors that included teams from both the UAAP and the NCAA.
Known to love chucking long-range shots while playing little defense, the 6-foot-5 ex-Blue Eagle said familiarity with the FEU coaching staff was the key factor in him making the decision.
“Siguro kasi sila coach Nash (Racela), coach Eric (Gonzales), coach Richie (Ticzon), coach Josh (Reyes) naging coach ko na sila sa RP team nun. Feeling ko mas magiging comfortable ako sa kanila,” he told FOX Sports Wednesday.
Fortunately for Tolentino, the Tamaraws have a role ready for him after the departure of star forward Mac Belo.
“Ang sabi sakin ni coach Nash na magiging role ko siguro parang Mac Belo,” he shared. “Because of the system, pwede akong mag tres, pwede akong mag kwatro.”
While he admits he is not as agile, physically-strong and defensive-minded as the Gilas Cadet is, Tolentino hopes to stretch the floor for the Morayta side when he becomes eligible in Season 80.
In his last season for Ateneo, the San Beda HS alum shot 30.4% from beyond the arc and normed 5.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in a little over 10 minutes per game.
Belo, on the other hand, made 32.6% of his 3-point tries while averaging 12.7 points and 6.2 boards in helping FEU win the title over UST.
Whether he becomes the next Belo or not would have to wait. For now, Tolentino is bent on correcting mistakes of the past and, along the way, prove his skeptics wrong.
“(I will) focus sa studies more,” he said. “Balance things. Balance talaga.”
And with Racela, who has been known to help his players change how they approach life on and off the court, by his side, Tolentino is expected to return to his once lethal form.
For the college junior, however, the onus is on him to change his ways and be a better person.
“Sa tingin ko, nasakin din naman yun. Wala naman sa kanya yun kasi kahit gaano siya kagaling magbago ng buhay ng player, kung yung player mismo yung ayaw, wala ring mangyayari,” he explained. “I think ako rin yun e.”
“Oo naman (gusto kong magbago),” he added. “Kung ano yung kakulangan ko nun, dadagdagan ko.” — By Josiah Albelda