Monday, 25 February 2013 3 Comments
If you happen to come across UST’s Kevin Ferrer outside of the basketball court and in everyday attire, he could easily fool you into thinking that he just got extremely lucky in height and that he’s no basketball player.
But the thing is, he is. He is a damn good player, especially for his age.
Still dripping with sweat and breathing heavily from early morning practice, I sat down with the sophomore cager who still had a long day of basketball and school ahead of him.
“Super tight pa rin,” he says of his still hectic schedule despite the offseason from the UAAP. He trains for UST and Blackwater Sports (D-League) on top of his classes.
Fortunately, an entire day’s basketball and school grind is all too familiar for Kevin as he has been doing it since high school. As a vital cog of the UST Tiger Cubs and a member of the RP Youth Team, Kevin learned to prioritize and juggle big responsibilities at a young age.
He admits, though, that it was a struggle for him, “Mahirap kasi lahat pinagsasabay mo. Pag-aaral, tapos training sa UST and sa RP. Makakauwi ako sa bahay mga 11pm.” And still he did it again and again.
His hard work paid off, however, as Kevin became one of the most highly-touted recruits once he exited the Tiger Cubs. His transition from Cub to Growling Tiger, he admits, was a big adjustment and definitely challenging.
“Iba. Sa high school, basic basic lang. Dito sa college, parang mental na eh. ‘Tsaka yung katawan kailangan nang palakihin,” he says.
It would seem that the former Tiger Cub standout has found his way around college basketball as he is steadily, if not already, making a name for himself.
Since his breakout game against University of the East in the first round of UAAP Season 75—where he stepped up in the absence of teammate Jeric Teng and scored 16 points, including making 4 triples—we’ve seen Kevin do a myriad of things that not only silenced doubters, but also proved his high value to the UST squad he eventually helped carry to the finals.
Among those was Kevin’s incredible athleticism. We saw a highflying offensive player who would drive strong and leap high to get the ball to the hoop. We saw his limbs extend all over the place as he intercepted passing lanes, fought for rebounds, ran the floor, and hustled for loose balls.
But it was most likely the revelation of Kevin as a defensive player that truly left a mark in people’s minds.
Kevin uncorked his defensive abilities during their second round match-up against National University, where he hounded Ray Parks all throughout, and helped limit NU to just 29.7% success rate from the field. Kevin credits all that to his street basketball roots.
“Kasi dati pa pinapabantayan na sa akin ‘yung best player,” he shares. “Parang nakasanayan ko na, uy nakaka-score ‘yun (player), kailangan ko na i-stop para manalo ‘yung team. Tapos ginawa ko na lang kay Parks.”
Kevin donned his hero’s cape once more during the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL), where he and the Growling Tigers first tasted the thrill of being National Champions. This, he says, was the moment when he felt things changed for him. He revels in the sweet moment of finally getting a measure of revenge on Ateneo, their UAAP Finals tormentors.
“Sa UAAP, ‘yung nandoon na (kami) pero nawala pa. Pero sa PCCL bumawi kami,” he explains. “Binigay namin yung best namin para makuha talaga ‘yung title ‘tsaka makabawi sa Ateneo.”
When his on-court rivalry with Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena was brought up, Kevin was quick to talk of Kiefer as his best friend.
“(Rivals kami sa court) pero sa labas super close friends (kami),” he shares of the common subplot between the two talented athletes since high school. “Best friends talaga kami. Minsan dun ako natutulog sa kanila dati.”
The lanky Tiger is not limited to collegiate leagues. Kevin has also made quite a ruckus in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup where he, along with some fellow Growling Tigers, play for Blackwater Sports. Although they failed to reach the finals in this conference, the experience he gained from the semi-pro league will be valuable when he comes back for his 3rd playing year.
“Malaking tulong kasi iba na, super tough. Doon ko rin nakukuha ‘yung kumpiyansa ko,” he explains.
The D-League also helped him boost his confidence further because of the freedom he was given to play his own game. The proof of which can be seen in his numbers and overall consistent contributions to Blackwater each game.
Many know Kevin Ferrer, the athlete, but as I take a break from the basketball questions, I instantly catch a glimpse of Kevin Ferrer, the animated, ever smiling, and comical person. When he’s not busy chasing greatness, Kevin is big on movie marathons and hanging out with his teammates.
His ultimate comfort food? Sinigang na hipon. Even his favorite Pokemon reveals something about his personality.
“Si Snorlax kasi (lagi) tulog,” he says with a chuckle.
UAAP Season 75 was a big season for Kevin. It was a preview of bigger things to come for the homegrown UST kid in the next three years. Armed with his goal of getting a ring for UST and the wealth of experiences he is accumulating, there is no doubt that he will become better – way better.
He will become a leader. He will become an all-around offensive and defensive threat. He will be double-teamed because he can do so many things. He will become a better person, a better student, a better teammate, and a better friend.
Kevin Ferrer will be better. And there’s no stopping it. As it is, he has sprouted wings and is the highest-flying Tiger out there. He is poised for flight, and he is ready to be catapulted. He was born to fly.
By Jane Bracher