Once a double-double machine for UPIS, Gelo Sablan decided to take his talents to España and join UST in the UAAP seniors division almost 2 years ago.
“Hindi naman ako in-invite ng UP mag-training, tinake ko na lang yung opportunity na kinukuha ako ng UST,” he said about his initial college choice. “So nung kinukuha na ako ng UP, hindi na ako nag-try out. Nag-commit na kasi ako sa UST.”
But alas, Sablan and the Growling Tigers’ partnership proved to be unfruitful. And after just a year, the 6-foot-4 forward is coming ‘home.’
Last week, Sablan was seen suiting up for UP in the maiden Intercollegiate 3×3 Invitationals, where he teamed up with Diego Dario, Andrew Harris and Enzo Battad to make the Sweet 16.
Asked what prompted the change of heart, the ex-Junior Maroon was curt.
“Hindi ako nakapag-adjust sa UST, at hindi ko na-feel na at home ako doon. Kaya bumalik ako ng UP, kasi nandoon lahat ng ginawa ko since high school,” he explained.
As a team that has missed the Final Four for 18 straight seasons — the longest such drought in the UAAP — UP needs help at every position, especially in the big men spots.
And Sablan, who averaged 13.1 points and 10.4 rebounds in his last campaign with UPIS, vows to compete for a slot as the Fighting Maroons prepare for Season 79.
“Sipag ko at yung IQ ko sa game. Yung length ko sa position ko magagamit ko sa advantage ko,” he said. “Pwede ako mag-shooting guard, small forward and power forward.”
This versatility and the fact that the Diliman cagers have been working hard in training even in the absence of a head coach make Sablan believe that UP will be stronger when the next UAAP tournament fires off in less than 6 months.
“Expect nila na mas malakas yung UP ngayon, kasi marami nag-residency last year na pwede na mag-laro. Konti lang din ang grumaduate, yung core nandoon pa rin.” — By Arylle Magtalas