The NU Bulldogs scored a coup when they secured a commitment from high school star Rodolfo Alejandro III last week.
Rodolfo Alejandro, the leading scorer of the NCAA juniors division, averaged 25.4 points and 4.4 assists for the Mapua Red Robins in his final year. He also served as team captain of the Philippine youth basketball national team that placed fourth in the FIBA Asia Under-16 Championships in Vietnam last October. He averaged 12.8 points and 3.1 assists, 6th best in the tournament.
NU coach Eric Altamirano has very high hopes for the youngster, who could see playing time at either guard position, and expressed little doubt that the high-scoring Rodolfo Alejandro will fit with NU’s current alpha dog, UAAP Season 74 MVP Rayray Parks.
Parks averaged 20 points and 6.5 rebounds as a rookie to become the first NU player to win the award.
“The way I look at it, it could help Rayray because right now it’s like he’s really the only scorer we have. Having another one would be a good complementary fit, like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James,” said Altamirano.
He would not confirm, though, if the young Rodolfo Alejandro, who is only 16 years old, will have to spend some time on Team B to mature physically or if he’ll jump into the lineup straight away.
“We don’t know yet. We’ll wait for him to finish school. After he graduates, we’ll invite him to practice. Let’s leave it at that. We don’t want to preempt anything,” he said.
Rodolfo Alejandro, though, is also waiting on word if he’ll get one more crack at the international stage before he plays for the Bulldogs in the UAAP.
The Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Under-18 Championships are scheduled for June and the FIBA Asia Under-18 in August and he could be eligible to participate in both.
“I don’t know what the plan for me is yet. I know I’m scheduled to do some training in the US, maybe after national team,” said Rodolfo Alejandro.
He expressed excitement in joining his new NU teammates and is already familiar with some of them. Point guard Cedrick Labing-Isa comes from a nearby area in Caloocan and is a friend of the family. Gelo Alolino was a former teammate of Alejandro’s in a previous All-Star Game.
And his thoughts on Parks?
“He’s really great. He’s a great player,” said Alejandro. “But I’ll do all I can to be able to contribute to the team.”