From his hairstyle, his size and some of his on-court moves, St. Benilde freshman Yankee Haruna has been drawing plenty of comparisons to Alaska’s ace wingman Calvin Abueva.
But the 6-foot Fil-Am wingman intends to carve out his own niche as he tries to play a key role in the Blazers’ title campaign starting in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney that fires off in June.
“I actually get that a lot,” Haruna, 21, answered when he was asked if he’s being compared to the 6-foot-2 Abueva, a one-time NCAA MVP with San Sebastian College. “But I’m just trying to be me. I’m not trying to be like anyone else. I’m trying to play my game.”
After toiling in La Salle’s Team B for two years, Haruna decided to take his talents on St. Benilde and served a one-year residency last year, making him eligible to finally see action in the country’s oldest collegiate league.
A known high-flyer, Haruna admitted he’s been working on adding weapons on his offensive game, something that he has shown in a four-point, three-rebound, one-assist showing in St. Benilde’s 54-59 defeat dealt by National U last Wednesday in the 2016 Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup.
“I tried to work on it (outside shooting) because people say I can’t shoot. So I’m trying to prove something that I can make outside shots too. That’s how I kept it going,” said the New Jersey native.
Haruna, who is eligible to play for three years in the NCAA, admitted he still have a long way to go if he hopes to help the Blazers become a contender.
“From the start, it was all jitters. First game, new team. We’re still trying to get that chemistry. So for me, it’s all about excitement,” he said.
Asked if he’s following the career of Abueva, who is now tasked to lead Alaska against Rain or Shine in their best-of-seven titular showdown for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown starting Friday, Haruna said: “No, not really. I watch PBA but not really. I just watch PBA every time I get a chance.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports