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Green Gallery: Encho Serrano takes the leap

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Known for his dynamic finishes and steady defense, Encho Serrano has proven himself to be an integral cog for the DLSU Green Archers after playing for two UAAP seasons. Embracing his role in a stacked backcourt, the 5’11” cager averaged 9.14 points, 3.43 rebounds, and 1.71 assists in Season 82.

Now onto the next stage of his career, Serrano will be playing for his hometown Pampanga Deltas in the National Basketball League-Pilipinas (NBL), where the 21-year-old is expected to ramp up the team’s championship expectations, after letting go of his eligibility in the UAAP. With an opportunity to showcase his undeniable potential, the gifted and skilled young man in him is sure to bear significant results.

Winning mentality

Serrano impressed universities with his athletic ability and finishes above the rim as a high schooler. While young athletes want to showcase their impeccable talent and impress their coach, it was different for Serrano, who is invested in self-improvement. He mentions, “Every training and game, I get to learn something, and I improve each time kasi I always look at it as an opportunity to get better.”

Having competitive games outside the country is always a big help for a team’s preparations. It is also an opportunity to build chemistry and cohesion within the team before the season starts. Playing and learning from the best of the best is something Serrano enjoys. “I experienced playing with athletes from all over the world like Russia and USA, [and] it was a big help for me to experience that as an athlete,” Serrano shares.

With the pandemic halting the UAAP games, many of his teammates like Aljun Melecio and Tyrus Hill skipped their final year at La Salle to play professionally. With the lack of veteran presence, he expects that the team will be led by names like Joaquin Manuel and Kurt Lojera saying, “I think ‘yung mga next leaders for the next season would be ‘yung mga natira na nakasama ko before.”

(I think the next leader[s] for the next season would be my former teammates like Joaquin Manuel and Kurt Lojera.)

Despite falling short of a win to qualify for the Final Four and his stint cut short with La Salle, Serrano still enjoyed and cherished his stay in Taft. “I’ll always be thankful for the Lasallian community na laging andiyan to support us.”

(I’ll always be thankful for the Lasallian community who are always there to support us.)

Test of character

Setting proper goals is one of the crucial elements in pursuit of deserved success. An athlete characterized by immense focus leads to the ability to perform consistently no matter the circumstances. “I will always give my 100 percent para makatulong sa kanila (Pampanga Delta) at makuha namin ‘yung championship,” Serrano asserts. Before different tournaments were put in a hiatus, Serrano was making strides, averaging 19.8 points per game for the Deltas in six games. However, the going will only get tougher as the regional league has become a professional one, paving the way for experienced veterans and hungry newcomers to mix up the competition.

(I will always give my 100 percent so that I will be able to help my team get the championship.)

[Hindi] puwede mawala sa condition lalo na as an athlete, dapat always ready,” he mentions. The limitations brought by the pandemic challenged not only the players but also their discipline and consistency to become better. During these times, an athlete’s commitment and love for their sport can act as the extra push to continue enhancing their craft. Although virtual practices have become necessary, there are still major adjustments that have to be made. The skipper says, “I would say na ‘yung impact ng pandemic was really heavy on me, and I had to adjust and change a lot of ways to be able to cope with it.”

(One must always be prepared, especially as an athlete; we always have to be ready.)

Looking ahead

For now, Serrano is focused on his stint with the Pampanga Deltas and getting in shape for the upcoming season of NBL-Pilipinas, having last played for DLSU with coach Derrick Pumaren in the PBA D-League in March 2020.

At present, he is training to defend the title led by Levi Hernandez, who was named Finals MVP in their best of three series. He will be teaming up with Ronald Pascual who recently signed with Pampanga Delta to boost their title defense for this year’s NBL Presidential Cup. The NBL-Pilipinas will play in a closed-circuit setup that was approved by the Games and Amusements Board last July 9.

Serrano has a long, worthwhile race to go and his determined attitude will surely make waves in his next tour of duty. Picking up valuable lessons as a Green Archer, he is one sure to translate the University’s winning legacy to whatever lays in store for him beyond La Salle.

By Raphael Serrano

By Jeremiah Dizon

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