By Mav C. Gonzales for Yahoo! Southeast Asia
RR Garcia and Bill Romeo of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws just bagged this year's Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year Awards in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
College Hoops follows their rise to fame and how they're dealing with it.
Most Valuable Player: RR Garcia
Two years ago, the name Ryan Roose Garcia wouldn't even ring a bell to most people. With an average of 16.8 points per game, the highest in the league right now, that was bound to change.
RR learned basketball when he was eight-years-old. He played under the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas with his brother. He got a first taste of basketball glory in freshman high school when he received the MVP Award. He was still in Southern City Colleges in Zamboanga back then, playing against his now-teammate Jens Knuttel who was in Ateneo de Zamboanga University.
Going to FEU wasn't a hard decision for RR. He saw fellow Zamboangueños Jens and Andy Barroca make it big in FEU. But more than the exposure, he liked the cohesiveness of the Tamaraws. It was basically a family away from family.
After a season in the UAAP, he was moved to Team B because he joined the RP Youth Team. When he returned this July, he was just a monster on the court and people couldn't quite explain the vast improvement. Some fans just started the myth that he gets his basketball skills from his bronze-dyed hair.
RR may have won the MVP Award but that was just an added bonus. His real goal this season is to win as many games as possible. "Syempre kung mataas nga ang points per game mo pero talo naman kayo, aanhin mo pa yon? Ang gusto ko lang talaga maka-contribute sa team," he ends.
He remains as low profile as ever though, as you'd often find this reigning UAAP MVP hanging out at the tusok-tusok or Internet café across their dorm. If you're lucky you might even spot him biking around Morayta after training. Where else would you find this kind of MVP?
Rookie of the Year: Bill Romeo
Terrence Bill Romeo, on the other hand, shot to fame last year when he scored 83 points for the FEU Baby Tams against University of the Philippines Integrated School.
How did he even put in 83 points? "Wala siyang pinapasahan! Tsaka kalaban niya hanggang dibdib niya lang," jokes RR Garcia in the background.
"Hindi naman talaga planado na ganun karami ang score ko. Kaya lang after two quarters, 33 points na ko. Sabi ng coach namin tulungan na lang ako ng teammates ko gumawa ng record," he explains. His 83 points did surpass the former record of 55 points by UPIS' Paolo Mendoza in the 90s.
Bill's dad always wanted to play in the pros. When he wasn't able to, he passed the dream to his six-year-old son. Bill didn't let him down as he won his first basketball award, an MVP title, in an Inter-Barangay League when he was only 12.
A former Baby Tam, he decided to stay with FEU because of their excellent athletic program. "And the extra rice!" he adds.
Being a rookie doesn't stop Bill from shooting right in front of his defender or hounding the other team's ball handler. In fact, he likes to go up against the veterans because he learns a lot of his moves from them.
If he has adapted well to the college basketball system, he says he still has a lot of adjustments to do when it comes to dealing with fans and media.
"Sobrang ibang-iba. Sa juniors parang kalahati lang ang nanonood eh. Sa seniors, sobrang daming fans tapos after the game may nagpapa-picture pa," he says with disbelief. "Naninibago pa ko. Naba-blanko nga ako minsan pag ini-interview ako eh."
Like his teammates, his goal really is to win the championship. He's even got a little ritual for himself: Bill hasn't cut his hair since the season started. Well whatever he's doing, he's doing it right as he proved to be the best rookie this year has seen.
RR and Bill may have already made their way to the top of the league with the MVP and ROY Awards. Now, College Hoops will find out what's comes from the top of their heads when they hear these words:
RR: Ako din, masarap.
Bill: Iba na lang sa'yo! Sabihin mo na lang bilog.
RR: German Shepherd.
RR: Red Horse.
Bill: Red Horse din ako eh.
RR: Palitan mo.
Bill: Okay, milk ako.
RR: Coaster lang dapat sa'yo eh.
RR: Dirk Nowitzki. Ay teka, si Jens Knuttel na lang. German yun eh.
Bill: Dirk Nowitzki.
RR: O, nanggagaya ka nanaman.
RR: Hot, eh gay nga!
Bill: Bakla ba yon?
(RR rolls his eyes and laughs)
RR: Oy gusto ko rin yon, Star Margarine.
Bill: Wag, iba sa'yo.
RR: Star for all seasons.
RR: Defensive player.
Bill: Oo nga, defensive player.
RR: Head coach ka na lang.
Bill: Inunahan ako eh. Pwede parehas kami ng sagot?
RR: Di nga!
Bill: Ano na lang, matapang. Brave coach.
RR: Si Jens kaya idol mo. Nagbobolahan na lang tayo dito eh!