Is Forthsky Padrigao ready to lead Ateneo?

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Is Forthsky Padrigao ready to lead Ateneo?
Ateneo's Forthsky Padrigao
UAAP Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles labored in their Season 85 opening day win over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 79-70.

And the surprise big game player for them was none other than sophomore Forthsky Padrigao. There were flashes of brilliance last season. One game might not be enough indication, but if he can approximate his performance against FEU for the entire season, he will plug a hole in sore need of a stud. 

When Padrigao took over from SJ Belangel in the Blue Eaglets’ lineup (after a championship in 2017), the squad returned to the finals but lost to National University.

The following season, he played alongside Joshua Lazaro and Francis Lopez in a severely depleted team that only made the Final Four.

When Padrigao joined the seniors squad, it was a year after Matt Nieto left, and he was behind Belangel and Tyler in what would be their final year. The team went to the finals and lost to the University of the Philippines.

This season, there’s Joshua Lazaro and a high-flyer in Kai Ballungay in a depleted Ateneo lineup. The only veterans with mileage in their legs are Angelo Kouame and BJ Andrade. Well, technically, David Ildefonso.

No doubt, Forthsky would not want a repeat of history as he looks to guide the Blue Eagles past the elimination round and beyond. It’s a young and inexperienced team, but there is potential and enough pieces to make a real game of it against heavy favorites UP and De La Salle University.

When he made his presence felt (four points and one assist in the first period, six points and four assists in the third, and nine points and two assists in the fourth), Ateneo led at the end of the quarter. When he didn’t contribute at all — the second period — Ateneo fell behind. 

If Padrigao asserts himself, then they will have found the heir to Matt Nieto. But the Blue Eagles will need others to do their part. Ateneo had Chris Koon and Joshua Lazaro help bring up the ball as well. Opponents adjusted to that at some point and made it difficult. . 

And there’s rookie Paul Garcia, who gave a very good account of himself in the preseason. He came off the bench and played a few minutes going scoreless. 

For the Ateneo faithful, they are hoping that it’s a simple case of déjà vu when Kiefer Ravena went scoreless in his seniors debut for Ateneo (against Adamson). After that unlikely match, he routinely destroyed opposing defenses. 

Based on what we saw from Garcia in the preseason, there is more to his game than the inconsequential seven minutes he played. 

More than the point guards, Ateneo will need consistency from Ildefonso (who had two bum calls against him). He played well as he contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds. Now, he needs to do this day in and out. 

They will need Andrade to find his range (15 points). Speaking of finding their range, the Blue Eagles were 10-32 in terms of three-point shooting. Only UE and Adamson fired more (37 and 35 respectively while hitting less).
And hopefully, Kouame will assert himself and not be this bystander waiting to put the ball back. Gio Chiu and Kai Ballungay didn’t do much but like Garcia, they will do better (based on previous output).

However as of one game, there are still the same holes they had against UP — clamping down the middle with not much effect, scrambling to challenge the open shooter, and defending against the screens for 3-point shots. 

It’s one game, and the Blue Eagles remain a work in progress. 

The next stern test awaits — the bruising NU Bulldogs.







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