Adjustment to NCAA physicality bearing fruit for Jomel Puno

Jomel Puno has been making quite the noise for San Beda University as the high-leaping Filipino-Canadian baller steered the Red Lions to their sudden surge in the NCAA Season 99.

However, Puno had to first make the necessary adjustments to the league's physicality to get his game going in the tournament.

In his first five games, Puno was averaging just 5.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals, and 0.2 blocks in 14:30 minutes of action as the Mendiola crew racked up three wins and two losses.

But ever since he was given longer playing time in their game against Jose Rizal University last October 14, Puno has been nothing short of stellar.

Against the Heavy Bombers, Puno tallied nine points, 12 rebounds, and three assists before he churned out a career-high and league-best 17 boards against Perpetual last October 17 alongside 12 markers and one dime.

On Friday, Puno dropped another double-double outing when he poured in 16 points and 11 rebounds against San Sebastian.

All of these resulted in a win for the Red Lions as they solidified their grip at the second spot with a 6-2 card.

"Siguro ‘yung him getting used to the style of play sa NCAA, ‘yung physicality," shared head coach Yuri Escueta.

"‘Yung sa physicality, naka-adjust siya and ‘yung atmosphere iba rin, nung una may kaba [siya]."

(Perhaps, it's about him getting used to the style of play in NCAA. The physicality, he has adjusted and the atmosphere is different so he was nervous at first.)

As a bench player, Puno is now the team's third leading scorer behind third-year leaders Jacob Cortez and Yukien Andrada, and Escueta lauded him for leading their second unit production, especially with a tight race in the tournament.

"More than the streak, it’s the level of performance ng team and that’s why I’m really happy, especially with the bench," added Escueta.

"In our last two games, ‘yung bench ko nagpe-perform so kailangan namin ‘yun when we play in the second round."

(More than the streak, it's the team's level of performance and that's why I'm really happy especially with the bench. In our last two games, the bench performed so we need that when we play in the second round.)

—JKC, GMA Integrated News

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