CROSS OVER. Jerome Garcia is one of the very few players who have played for both schools in San Marcelino.
There’s now a fourth face in Emilio Aguinaldo College ready and raring to join forces with stalwarts Hamadou Laminou, Francis Munsayac, and Sidney Onwubere.
In only his first year, Jerome Garcia is proving to be more than capable as a key cog in the Generals’ aspirations to be much more than a darkhorse. “Siyempre nung una, mahirap, pero ngayon, nakakasabay na ako sa team. Ngayon, nagkakaroon na nga rin ako ng sariling play,” he expressed.
Indeed, in only a little over a year, Garcia has already earned the trust of head coach Ariel Sison. Talking about the biggest addition to his playoff hopeful side, the mentor said, “Napakalaking addition niya kasi meron pa kaming isang leader, isang go-to-guy. Kapag kailangan namin ng basket, kaya niyang ibigay e.”
What a 180-degree turn for a player who had no squad and no scholarship in the summer of 2016.
Even the 24-year-old had to muse, “Actually, wala talaga akong ine-expect pag dating ko rito. Parang para sa akin, back to zero ako.”
Garcia was the standout, along with now similarly exiled Jaydee Tungcab, in Adamson University’s short-lived Mike Fermin era.
It was there that the burly forward did his best to carry a talent-lacking side.
It was also there that he believed he would complete his collegiate career.
Only, fate apparently had other plans for Garcia as in one team practice during last year’s offseason, he got cut from the Soaring Falcons. “Kinausap na lang nila ako na kailangan nilang magbawas ng player kasi dumadami na recruit ni coach Franz (Pumaren). Ni-respect ko na lang yung decision nila,” he recalled.
He respected the decision, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t pain him. “Nung nawala ako sa Adamson, sobrang sama sa pakiramdam. Ang in-expect ko talaga, since sa Adamson nag-star career ko, sa Adamson na rin ako ga-graduate,” he said.
Fortunately for the streaky shooter, he didn’t have to go far to look for welcoming arms. “May liga akong sinalihan na yung coach ko dun, kakilala yung mga assistant sa EAC. Sabi nila, i-try ko dun,” he shared.
He then continued, “That time, sumusuko na ako e, ayoko na talaga, pero nagdasal ako na bigyan ako ng pangitain kung dapat ko pang ituloy yung paglalaro ko.”
As it turns out, Garcia’s prayers were answered when he tried out for EAC, the school neighboring Adamson, and made a good account of himself there. “Maganda naman napakita ko dun sa practice na yun so agad din akong kinausap ni coach Ariel. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ito na yung binigay ni Lord,” he narrated.
Now he has found a better place for him, the incoming first-year General is adamant that he will do anything and everything in his power to help his team get over the hump. “Ito na e. Ito na ‘to. Kailangan, ‘di ko na pakawalan,” he expressed.
He then continued, “Sa akin kasi, patapos na rin yung collegiate career ko (in two years) so kailangan, ibibigay ko na lahat.”
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