The legislator: Jerie Pingoy

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WHEN NEWS broke out that Far Eastern University-Diliman’s (FEU-FERN) standout, Jerie Pingoy, was transferring to the Ateneo, many were curious as to what led him to make such a decision. After all, it was Pingoy—the back-to-back basketball MVP of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) juniors division—who led the Baby Tamaraws to their first juniors basketball championship title in 25 years.

Immediately after Pingoy’s decision, the UAAP board announced a new rule: High school graduates of participating UAAP schools who’ve transferred to a different member university are now required two years residency before they can play. Media outlets were quick to dub it the “Jerie Pingoy rule.”

The rule has pushed Pingoy into the spotlight, but behind all the controversy is an unassuming student-athlete who just happens to excel at basketball. So who exactly is Ateneo’s newest prized gem?

Beyond the politics

Raised in Barangay Apas and Pasil in Cebu, Pingoy cites his father, former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) player Jerry Pingoy, as one of his biggest influences. “Sabi ng daddy ko, ‘Ako, huwag mo akong gayahin. Gusto ko, kung ano man nagawa ko, gusto ko malagpasan mo.’ (My dad told me, ‘Don’t be like me. What I want is that you surpass whatever I’ve accomplished.’)”

Interestingly enough, basketball was not Pingoy’s first sport. He first excelled in badminton, even representing his region in the Palarong Pambansa games when he was in grades 5 and 6. Eventually, though, he thought to follow in his father’s footsteps as a basketball player. “Maliit kasi akoundersized. Pero buti nalang tumangkad ako! (I was small—undersized. But it’s a good thing I grew taller!),” he says now.

In his first year of high school at the University of Cebu, 5’9’’ Pingoy joined the school’s varsity team. With his growth spurt giving him a boost of confidence, he decided to try his luck in Manila for his sophomore year.

He transferred to FEU-FERN, officially becoming a Baby Tamaraw. In an interview with Cebu Live! last August, Pingoy shared the difficulty of having to adjust to the UAAP juniors’ tournament. In a mix of English and Cebuano, he said, “It’s very different, because UAAP is a way bigger league than what I am used to and all the teams are strong.”

It seems, however, that he made the adjustment just fine; Pingoy attained several impressive accolades throughout the years, making him the prized recruit he is today. Some of these include Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. All-stars Mythical 5 Selection, Palarong Pambansa Mythical 5 Selection, UAAP Season 74 Juniors Mythical 5 Selection and back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards for UAAP Seasons 74 and 75.

In his last game as a Baby Tamaraw, he finished off the National University Bullpups with a final stat line of 32 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals to lead his team to its first ever championship. In the second of his back-t0-back MVP seasons, Pingoy averaged 21 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals. He also set the single-game record for most points in a game, scoring 43 against the University of the East.

Following through

Despite the new two-year UAAP residency rule, Pingoy seems to remain steadfast in his decision to stay in the Ateneo. “Ako ready naman ako sa lahat, e. Choice ko ‘to, e—choice ng pamilya ko. Kung ano man mangyari sa amin, tanggap namin. (I’m ready for everything. This is my choice—my family’s choice. Whatever happens to us, we’ll accept it).”

Though he will not be in the official lineup this Season 76, the Ateneo’s newest point guard recently donned the Blue and White jersey in the Fr. Martin Cup summer tournament. He debuted in a game against Fatima University before sitting out the rest of the game due to a minor injury.

Recently, Pingoy also joined the men’s basketball team in their annual Las Vegas training at the Joe Abunassar Impact Basketball Center.

Same team, different routes

One player who was fortunate enough to be unaffected by the new UAAP rule is former Ateneo High School Blue Eaglet standout Anton Asistio. As batchmates, both Asistio and Pingoy have squared off numerous times during their run as UAAP Juniors’ Basketball stars.

“He was the MVP for both seasons [74 and 75], so he has a reputation that he was the best in our batch,” Asistio says.

Now playing on the same team, Asistio expresses his sympathy for Pingoy’s tough luck with the new UAAP rule. “His situation’s quite unfair,” he says. “He just wants a good quality education and we can’t blame him for that. It’s his choice where he wants to go—it’s nothing personal. Making him sit out two [playing] years won’t change his decision.”

Parallel circumstances

Pingoy is not the first, nor will he be the last, to face the UAAP’s residency rule. Former New Mexico Highlands University guard and current Blue Eagle forward Chris Newsome, for example, has had similar experiences: He, too, was subject to the two-year residency rule because of his status as a foreign-based transferee.

Newsome shared in an interview with Athletic Motion last February that sitting out for two years was difficult, but keeping his mind on his game by practicing and watching Team-A play kept up his competitiveness.

Perhaps Pingoy will do well to get pointers from Newsome. For now, however, it appears that the next move Pingoy plans on making is practicing with Team-A and focusing on his studies to get a full experience of Atenean education.

In time, the name “Jerie Marlon Pingoy” will inevitably be buried under the news of the next top high school recruits. Perhaps for Pingoy, that may not be such a bad thing. Hopefully, the next time his name makes headlines again, it will be about his ascension into the ranks of the UAAP’s best and brightest stars. Until then, we wait.

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