Playing basketball for your barangay or your school or your alma mater, is a wonderful thing BUT having that Philippine flag on your jersey while playing in an international tournament is a whole different level, a much higher one.
For the graduating Ateneo Blue Eaglet Gian Mamuyac who played for Batang Gilas during the 2015 FIBA Asia U-16 Championship in Indonesia that finished 5th place out of 15 teams, he described that experience as “sobrang sarap and sobrang iba talaga (when playing) for your country kasi you’re representing every Filipino in the whole world.” He also cherished the opportunity to play with other guys from different schools and he said it was an honor to be considered one of the best players in his age bracket.
According to Mamuyac, he “had the best game of his life against China” when Batang Gilas staged an epic comeback to win 78-72 against three-time champion China. How big was that win for Batang Gilas? China’s loss signaled the end of its dynasty and their 33-game winning streak since the tournament began in 2009.
After Mamuyac’s solid stint with Batang Gilas, he followed that up with a much improved overall performance during Season 78 of UAAP Junior’s basketball. He was designated as one of the veteran leaders on the team and he felt that their roster had all the tools to repeat as champions. However, the Ateneo Blue Eaglets were unable to achieve the goal of winning back-to-back titles.
When asked about his best experience as a Blue Eaglet, Mamuyac’s face lit up as he described his team as “a family kung saan ang kailangan ng isa ay ibibigay ng isa.” He said that an environment that prioritized being part of a family was important to the success of the team. Mamuyac also mentioned that someone they truly missed this year was Micheal “Big Mike” Nieto who graduated last season and is now a part of the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Big Mike’s leadership last season was something Mamuyac and the other leaders were unable to replicate this season. What exactly did Big Mike do last year?
“Before and every practice, nakikipag-kulitan siya (Big Mike) sa amin and tinatanong niya kung anu (or meron bang) problems.” Mamuyac further expressed that sometimes he expected Big Mike to show up in their practice to encourage the team. That is the type of leadership which Mamuyac would like to emulate as he enters the college level.
Speaking of college, Gian Mamuyac has committed to joining the Ateneo Blue Eagles next season because “Ateneo and Coach Tab (Baldwin) prioritizes academics first before basketball,” explained Mamuyac. Besides academics, Coach Tab has already taught Mamuyac a lot of things like not wasting time during practice (and in life) and instilling self-discipline in all the things you do.
Standing at a shade under 6-feet, his wingspan and length are comparable to a 6’1” to 6’2” player. Being only 17, Mamuyac can still grow taller and longer in the coming years. The Blue Eagles would love that and Gian knows that his athleticism and length are things that make him an exceptional player. Aside from that, he also knows that improving his outside shooting and increasing his core and upper body strength are things he needs to work on during the offseason.
Sometimes athletes in school forget the part where student comes first before athlete. In Mamuyac’s case, that was rarely a problem because he surrounded himself with people who have great (and positive) scholastic attitudes. Moreover, Mamuyac stated that his friends have honors and “Mahihiya kang hindi mag-aral (when around them).”
Gian also feels guilty when he does not do his duties and responsibilities as a student. He stressed, “I care for my academics because basketball has an end so kailangan meron back up (after your career ends).” Surely, all teachers wish that all student-athletes have a mentality similar to Gian Mamuyac.
Furthermore, Mamuyac added that high school taught him how to prioritize and manage his time efficiently. Most importantly, he felt that his current batch of classmates and friends from section G2016 was integral for his growth as a student-athlete because without them, things might have ended differently especially when he was feeling sad and down after a disappointing end to UAAP Season 78.
Lastly, Mamuyac has some advice to aspiring student-athletes, “Tanggalin muna ninyo lahat ng distractions and dapat academics and basketball lang. Puwede ang girlfriend but she must understand na wala masyadong time for her.”
And his message to his fans, “Thank you for supporting me in my high school career and I hope you support me in college. I promise to be same Gian Mamuyac that you guys supported from the start.”
***Make sure to check Gian Mamuyac at the Slam Rising Stars event on March 20 and watch out for him during Season 79 of the UAAP Men’s Basketball.***
Now, time for some trivia about Gian Mamuyac.
Favorite NBA/PBA player: Allen Iverson and Terrence Romeo
Favorite NBA/PBA team: Golden State Warriors and Tropang TnT
Favorite shoe/sneaker: Nike Flyknit Racers
Favorite music group: One Direction
Best subject in high school: Math; worst: Araling Panlipunan
If not basketball, what would you rather do? Migrate to Japan and get paid playing video games! – By Rolly Mendoza
Follow this writer on Twitter: @rollzter