Don't count the rookie out.
In the second Finals rematch between San Beda and Lyceum, rookie James Canlas became the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Sports Press Corps NCAA Player of the Week.
Canlas led the defending champions to a 75-68 win over their modern-day rival Pirates in the two teams’ second meeting in the NCAA Season 94 men’s basketball tournament.
Never mind the fact that the game featured big names like CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, Javee Mocon, Mike Nzeusseu, and twins Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino because it was the youngster who went out of his way and dominated.
Canlas finished with a career-high 18 points, a game-high, while also grabbing six rebounds.
And half of Canlas’ points were in the second quarter alone.
Canlas said he’s aware of a rookie’s role in the team and that was to provide support to the established leaders but he knew he had work harder than everyone else too.
“At first I was a little bit nervous but once I got to the game I just played good thinking that the game will come to you,” said Canlas. “As a rookie you have to prove something to everybody and not just be the guy who shows up and does nothing.”
As such, Canlas’ play drew rave reviews from San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez and superstar point guard Bolick.
“James will be the future of San Beda and Robert is his teacher,” said Fernandez.
“I always challenge James because he has a lot of potential,” said Bolick, who also had 18 points in the game against the Pirates. “He has good potential and I always challenge him because he will still be better when time comes and I know I will leave my school knowing it’s in good hands.”
Canlas said he feels the unnerving pressure Bolick and Fernandez’ expectations on his shoulders but he knows the invisible force is just a way for him to become better.
“I just give it my all and I don’t have to be afraid,” said Canlas. “I just have to be confident.”
The Filipino-Canadian rookie edged out fellow Red Lion Bolick, Mapua’s graduating guard Cedric Pelayo, and Benilde’s versatile forward Yankie Haruna for the weekly award handed out by print and online scribes covering the beat.