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From Palarong Pambansa to the bright lights of UAAP: Mark Nonoy continues to prove he's a diamond in the rough
by Reynald Magallon, September 06, 2019 3:14pm
A naturally-gifted speedster. An innate creative scorer but still a genuinely raw talent.
That is how Mark Nonoy looked-like in the eyes of the scouts when he first turned heads, suiting up for the Western Visayas team in the 2018 Palarong Pambansa in Ilocos Sur. He even made a good account of himself after a 43-point explosion against Northern Mindanao in the Quarterfinals.
To the critical minds of the country's finest basketball observers, Nonoy was still rough around the edges. Underdeveloped and needs more improvement, yet, has the potential to become one of the brightest and shiniest gems in the current collegiate circuit.
From his home in La Carlota City in Negros Occidental, Nonoy already expressed admiration for the sport at an early age. He would often join basketball tryouts during his elementary days before finally getting a break to represent his school.
"Nung elementary pero nagstart talaga ng official Grade 4, and then dun lang parang school-based lang din sa amin," recalled Nonoy in an interview with Courtside Philippines.
And that was the start of the journey that the young Nonoy is still taking up to this point. He got his first taste of a national tournament in sixth grade before joining the Hua Siong College of Iloilo in High School. That paved the way to the faithful day when he returned to the nationals and got scouted by the University of Sto. Tomas.
"Naglaro ako ng elementary and then nung Grade 6 papuntang Palaro (Pambansa) kaso natalo kami. Nung nag Grade 7 ako di ako na line-up sa school namin so Grade 8 nag-tryout agad ako sa Iloilo and then dun na hanggang grade 11 na ako dun," Nonoy said.
"Nung last year kasi nung nag grade 11 ako sa Iloilo, nag represent kami ng palarong pambansa dun sa Vigan city dun ako nadiscover nila (UST)," said the 5'8" playmaker.
UST took that gamble on the young court general and took him to Manila to try and hone his raw talent. With that chance, Nonoy quickly made sure that UST's trust and effort will not go to waste.
The rising cage star was notable - to say the least - in his debut for the Tiger Cubs in the Juniors Division as he unloaded 31 points against the defending champions Ateneo Blue Eaglets. He continued his impressive play with a triple-double performance of 17 points, 16 rebounds and 12 dimes in just his second game with the Cubs.
It didn't end there though, touted as one of the top high school prospects in the country, Nonoy introduced himself to the mainstream basketball fans when he stole the show from top high school stand out Kai Sotto and prolific teen, Jalen Green in the NBTC all-star game. He shone the brightest, nailing clutch baskets to help his Team Hustle win the game, much to the amusement not only from the typical fans but also some PBA stars as well.
"Syempre very thankful ako isa ako sa mga napili dun and nakasama si Kai, nakalaro ko sila Jaylen Green. Sa akin lang naman, yun yung binigay sa aking opportunity so ayun pinakita ko lang kung anong meron ako na talent," he said.
Nonoy's gem kept on shining since then, taking his act in the D-League with the UST Seniors team where he proved to be good enough to play with the big dogs.
"Di naman ganun kataas yung expectation nila, alam nila rookie and iba yung college sa high school eh. Alam naman natin yun," he said.
Whether his star will shine enough to be noticed in the bright lights of the arena, that remains to be seen. One thing for sure though, that this tough player is not afraid of challenges and more so, will not back down against the best of the best especially of it further develop his talent.
"I'll try my best na ibigay ko yung makakaya ko. Gawin ko lang yung pinapagawa ng coaches, gawin ko lang kung ano yung maitutulong ko sa team. Mahirap talaga mag adjust pero i'll do my best lang para makapag adjust sa college," Nonoy ended.
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