John Lloyd Clemente was eager to prove a point and delivered for National University when it mattered the most.
All thanks to coach Jeff Napa’s reminders, Clemente had a breakout game in the Bulldogs’ 73-68 comeback win against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Saturday, April 2.
After NU absorbed an 80-70 loss against University of the Philippines, Clemente had a dose of reality after Napa addressed what was lacking not only with his performance but for the rest of the veterans.
This time, the 6-foot-3 guard remained calm and composed to register 18 points including seven free throws, nine rebounds, and six assists for the Bulldogs despite tallying 4-of-11 shooting from the field.
For Napa, the presence of the seasoned players, including Clemente, has always been the “missing link” for the Sampaloc-based squad.
“Nag-settle down na itong nasa kaliwa ko (Clemente) kasi we keep on reminding him na ‘wag niyang hanapin ‘yong tira niya. Luckily, ngayon nakinig na siya na ‘di niya hinanap ‘yong tira niya,” said the three-time UAAP Juniors’ champion coach.
“Kusang dumating sa kanya so naging maganda ‘yong turnaround sa amin… everything will follow naman talaga basta sumunod lang sa system,” added Napa, citing that the two-year hiatus from the league may have contributed to Clemente’s eagerness to show off in the court.
In three outings as of March 31, Clemente has yet to produce huge numbers so far as he averaged 8.67 points on 26.5 shooting percentage and 4.67 rebounds.
No longer frustrated, Clemente, fondly known as JLC, echoed Napa’s sentiments and hoped to carry on with the same level of performance in the next games.
“Tama naman ‘yong sinabi ni coach na parang naghahanap ako ng puntos. Mali talaga ‘yon,” said the 23-year-old Clemente. “Parang pinamukha sa akin ni coach na ‘di dapat ganon na ”di mo laro ‘yon.’ Ayun, nagisigin ako parang napag-isip isip ko na, ‘Oo nga, ‘di ako ganon, ‘di ko strength ‘yon.’ Kaya kung alin ‘yong strength ko, doon lang ako.”