By: Danine Cruz
Last Friday was a day full of firsts for Lyceum of the Philippines University’s Jaycee Marcelino.
Moments before the tip-off of Game 1 of the best-of-three finals series between the Lyceum Pirates and the San Beda Red Lions last Friday, Marcelino was hailed as the NCAA Season 93 Rookie of the Year. To make things more special, his first-ever individual honor coincided with a lot of his other firsts — his first NCAA finals, first time to play at the historic SMART Araneta Coliseum, and first time to have his mother watch him play live.
“Yung mama ko po, kakadating lang galing Jeddah. First time niya nanood ng live. Hindi niya po alam na aawardan ako nung Friday,” the humble son from Olongapo told Tiebreaker Times.
“Kahit ako doon ko lang din nalaman na may awarding kaya surprise yun!”
His mother, Mayen Marcelino, is an OFW who works as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia.
“Proud na proud siya sa akin kasi hindi niya po akalain na makukuha ko po yung award.”
The Lycean guard — who averaged 10.7 points on a 50-percent shooting clip to go along with 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 steals — admitted that it may be a feat to receive the greatest honor for any first year player, but it will be in vain if they miss to bag the championship.
“Nagfo-focus po kasi kami sa goal naming lahat na mag champion pero salamat kasi blessing yun para sa akin. Nandoon na tayo sa Rookie of the Year kaso wala akong pakialam sa award ko kung hindi naman po kami mag cha-champion,” the 22-year-old said.
Unfortunately, last Friday’s game, where Marcelino only tallied just six points on 3-for-12 shooting, marked another first — his first taste of defeat in the NCAA as the Pirates bowed to the San Beda Red Lions in a close match, 94-87.
“Ayun, natalo nga po kami nung first game pero hindi naman yun ang daan para sumuko kami. Pinaghahandaan namin ang Game Two. Wala pa kaming pakialam sa Game Three,” he said as the Pirates prepare for Game Two on Thursday.
While it is true that the feeling of losing is unfamiliar for him, most especially after sweeping the 18-game eliminations, he has shaken it off and simply believes that it gives them more opportunity to inspire — showing that he has truly taken their vision to heart.
“Sa una [kinabahan ako sa Araneta] pero kapag naglalaro ka na, wala ka ng mararamdaman kasi may mga taong nanonood at sumusuporta, mga taong ii-inspire.”
For a young athlete like him, firsts are very memorable. As for Marcelino, the only first that matters now is giving Lyceum their first championship.