All eyes on Scottie

Darryl Esguerra
PUBLISHED December 16, 2016 08:30 am
Scottie Thompson .Photo courtesy of PBA Media Bureau

After a stellar showing in his debut season, eyes will definitely on watch for Scottie Thompson as he looks for a fitting follow-up performance to cement his status as Ginebra’s future and rightful heir of the Fast and Furious.

The 2014 NCAA MVP has created a rumbling buzz last season, especially in the Governor’s Cup where he played a vital role to end the eight-year title drought of the Gin Kings. Hype flickers further for Thompson as he led the rebounding category for his team lorded by a tall frontline of Japeth Aguilar (6’9), Greg Slaughter (7’0) and Joe Devance (6’7).

Thompson started the 2015 season on a quiet note, he then slowly cracked the starting lineup of Coach Tim Cone. And he has continued to prove his worth.

As Coach Tim’s trust in the young cager grew, so did his minutes, his role, his responsibility and his output. In Game 3 of their semifinals series against the San Miguel Beermen, Thompson made history by becoming the first homegrown rookie to notch a triple-double, a feat last achieved by Johnny Abarrientos. He had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. More importantly, he helped power the Barangay to win over the Beermen.

A few nights later, the then-rook came up huge anew. The 6-foot-1 guard, rise up in the occasion and led the way with 24 points and 15 rebounds to propel the Kings set a Finals date with Meralco Bolts, and eventually snatch the crown.

That night, like he did back in his old Perpetual Help days, Thompson played at a level that was out-of-the-way for anyone else.

In that particular series, he shared the floor with imports Elijah Millsap and Justin Brownlee and a couple of titans in Aguilar and 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo. But Thompson simply outrebounded and outworked everyone.

“I’m so proud of him,” says Cone in an interview after the Governor’s Cup. “He’s just a smart player. More than his rebounding, it’s his unselfishness that has really helped the team.”

Thompson’s early PBA footprints seem to be parallel to his collegiate stint. He played behind Altas stars Jong Baloria and Jett Vidal during his first two years in the NCAA. Before making it to the starting spot, he has learned to be a role player where stayed patient and stuck to the grind.

In 2012, the 19-year-old Thompson was named Most Improved Player with a Mythical Five selection. He amazed the league that season by making triple-doubles look easy.

Although Baloria took over the lead role emptied by the departure of Vidal, it was clear that coach Aric del Rosario was shaping Thompson to be Perpetual Help’s Atlas in the years to come.

Thompson proved that playing as a role player in his first few years doesn’t mean he cannot build a name of his own.

Against Meralco in his first PBA Finals appearance, Thompson was a picture of calm and confidence for the Gin Kings, sharing playmaking chores with seasoned guard L.A. Tenorio. With his veteran-like composure, it was no surprise that Thompson was on the floor at crunchtime, on the biggest stage of Philippine basketball, helping the Gin Kings seal the crown.

Ginebra veterans Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand piled praises on the young guard, anointing him as the future of the franchise.

“That kid epitomizes the next generation of the never-say-die spirit,” says Helterbrand.

Just in his first year, the 23-year-old Thompson has shown he has the heart, discipline and pedigree of a player apt for the country’s most popular ball club. An all-star selection, a PBA title and an All-rookie team selection on his very young career, Thompson has proved that he belongs to the big league. The challenge now for the Pearl is to live on the hype he has earned and to continue pushing forward.

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