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Father-and-son moments do not usually come often in sports, so when the Marikina Shoe City won their debut match in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational powered by TM on Monday night, Kyle Tolentino couldn’t help but cry.
The 20-year-old Letran Knights-commit put up a 24-point, nine-rebound, three-assist masterpiece, lifting Marikina over Laguna Krah Asia, 79-73.
In his post-game interview, Tolentino broke down in tears, in a moment that will go down in his early career as one of the best, hands down.
“First time ko magkaroon ng ganitong (kagandang laro) tapos (under) kay daddy pa,” Tolentino, whose father Elvis serves as the head coach for the Shoe City, said afterwards.
“Nanonood rin ‘yung lolo ko eh, so binibigay ko talaga ‘yung best ko,” the younger Tolentino added, referring to former PBA pro Loreto “Ato” Tolentino.
Among what made Tolentino overcome with emotion was the fact that Marikina did not fair well in tune-up games prior to the start of the tournament.
And that rustiness even carried onto the early parts of the match, as they were held scoreless for the first five minutes of the opening quarter by Laguna. It looked as if they were on pace for a terrible opening performance.
But Tolentino turned the heat up, scoring 21 of his total in the first three quarters. He would up with four triples in over 33 minutes of action.
“Very special sa akin ‘tong tournament na ‘to kasi may gusto rin akong patunayan, marami ring nagda-doubt sa akin na na-line up lang ako dahil sa tatay ko,” the 6-foot-3 wing man shared, grateful for his father’s trust in his game.
“Kaya talagang tinake ko ‘tong opportunity ngayon para maglaro talaga (ng maganda). Past few tune-ups, hanggang sa bahay, pinapagalitan niya ako eh. Tinake ko lang as a challenge.”
Elvis echoed his sons sentiments, reiterating that there was no special treatment and that Kyle had to work hard for his minutes on the floor.
“I never doubted him. Nakita ko naman ‘yung talent. Pero, sabi ko nga sa kaniya, hindi ko siya gagamitin or maglalaro diyan dahil anak ko siya. Kailangan makatulong siya kaya siya ginagamit. ‘Yun naman ang tumatak (sa kaniya),” Elvis said.
And now with a signature game in the bag, they can look forward to a bright future ahead for the latest star in an established family of hoopsters.
“Take it as a challenge na wala si Yves Sazon, kasi it takes just one game to establish his name in basketball. Isang game lang ‘yan eh, kapag andiyan ka na, no turning back.”
Photos from Chooks-to-Go MPBL