The second coming of Gerry Abadiano

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BACK in August 2020, right smack into the high point of the pandemic, the University of the Philippines (UP) community got a shot in the arm with awesome news regarding their basketball program.

Two of the National University (NU) Bullpups who had back-to-back championships in the juniors division of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) were going to play for the UP Fighting Maroons in college.

Karl Tamayo, Most Valuable Player of their finals series against the Far Eastern University Baby Tamaraws who had been described as a “pro player in a collegiate player’s body,” committed to UP during this otherwise bleak time.

Packing a one-two punch with him was Gerry Abadiano, his on-court sidekick, a kinetic do-it-all combo guard and decorated floor general who ran the plays and scored hot shots as well during his high school tenure.

Like Tamayo, Abadiano was manna from heaven for UP. The UP community couldn’t believe their good luck in the off-season and couldn’t wait for Season 83 to start. (It didn’t. The pedigreed Bullpup acquisitions would stay in UP doing just virtual classes and practices as Season 83 was canceled due to the still dangerous public health situation.)

Down the line, UP also received more Bullpups into its fold: Terrence Fortea, Harold Alarcon, Cyril Gonzales and much later, Reyland Torres and Janjan Felicilda.

Their multi-titled coach, Goldwin Monteverde, became the head coach. And when news came that UAAP marquee sports like basketball and volleyball would return in Season 84 (2022), the starved collegiate fandom screamed with delight.

Finally, the exploits of the Mutt and Jeff duo of Tamayo and Abadiano in Maroon would be in full display. Or so the fans thought. But during their rookie year, only Karl Tamayo was able to show off his wares to the fullest. Abadiano had to play back-up point guard to the more senior JD Cagulangan. And although he showed spurts and surges of his explosive talent, more often than not, the talented Abadiano could not carry on where he left off from his illustrious junior basketball career.

For both Seasons 84 and 85, Gerry Abadiano would flounder and flourish, interchangeably. Good games where he would play a dominant role and be responsible for the big points (like in UP’s game against University of Santo Tomas in Season 85 at Ynares Center in Antipolo) would be tucked in between games where he got into foul trouble early.

For the most part he distinguished himself as a defensive specialist—Coach Gold’s go-to guy when there is an opponent to shackle up and keep at bay. He would also inject a tough and scrappy character to the UP game. Opponents found out how tough it was to be guarded by Gerry Abadiano.

But those who knew Gerry well knew there were more facets of the Abadiano diamond that had not yet been revealed in his collegiate career. Finally in Season 86 it happened.

Gerry A was a streak of lightning in UP’s game against Ateneo in Round 1. Accounting for all six points at the start of the game to put UP in the fight in the early goings, he kept attacking the basket, fearlessly throwing up converted shots that made sure his team would not be left behind in a game where Ateneo couldn’t seem to do anything wrong.

UP lost that nail-biter in OT. But in the Maroons’ next game against Adamson University, Abadiano was a man on a mission, never missing a beat from the get-go as he torched the Falcons with defensive plays, assists and steals that got him Player of the Game honors along with Reyland Torres.

The big revelation came four days later in the second Battle of Katipunan. There was something other-worldly about his game that day as Abadiano transformed into a confident and ruthless but cucumber cool scorer. Even his free throws were smooth as silk, as if the ring were larger than it actually is.

This here was Gerry Abadiano, the ex-Bullpup now ready to take on the top dog role for UP in the absence of flu-stricken captain, CJ Cansino. It was obvious he had found his groove.

“He struggled. He didn’t get the game he had in high school, but what I’m seeing from him now, I’m not surprised,” said Coach Goldwin Monteverde at the post-game presser.

Like his believers, Coach Gold had always kept faith in his pesky point guard. Sooner more than later, he knew he would find his game again. Now Gerry Abadiano is inviting every one to his coming out party. Enjoy!

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