From barangay leagues in Negros Oriental to achieving success in the NCAA harcourt, Stephen Garupil has no plans of releasing the gas pedal.

The explosive guard from Mabinay, Negros Oriental bagged the NCAA Season 99 Freshman of the Year award averaging 5.86 points, 3.36 rebounds, and 3 assists per game for the Letran Knights.

Garupil recalled the first time he was scouted while playing in an inter-barangay game that kicked off his career in Dumaguete City.

“I was scouted by Coach Kenneth Dalisay. Gadula ra ko sa inter-barangay and then he referred me to Coach Michael Villahermosa sa Asian College and then I had a great time there,” he shared with GMA Regional TV News.

He was then recruited by Saint Louis School-Don Bosco of Dumaguete to be a part of its team to compete in a national grassroots basketball league that was held in Cebu City.

His impressive performance caught the eye of coaches from Metro Manila who were at the tournament to scout for new talents.

“Scouts were watching me so I performed there, that’s why I'm here,” Garupil said.

In the end, he landed with the Intramuros-based squad headed by Rensy Bajar who was looking for a new court general after the departure of its graduating guards Fran Yu and Brent Paraiso.

Despite his individual achievement, Garupil admitted there is still a lot of work that needs to be done with his team after failing to make it to the final four with a 2-16 win-loss record.

“Masaya, syempre, pero at the end of the day, we are at the bottom of the standings. That's why I still have to work to win more games next season or win championships in the future,” he said.

In his 14 games with Letran, Garupil was 0 out of 4 from beyond the arc and only shooting 35.14 percent from the field.

“Next year kailangan kong i-improve yung shooting ko tapos yung decision making, leadership kasi point guard ako, kailangan kong dalhin yung team, ako yung extension ng coach kaya marami pa akong i-improve sa sarili ko,” he added.

If anything, players like Garupil only prove that there are many young Filipino hoopers in the provinces whose skills and talent are simply waiting to be discovered.

“Yung character ng mga taga-Negros, palaban yun eh…marami ding magagaling manglalaro dun sa amin sa Dumaguete,” he said.