Coming of age

July 15, 2020

HIS great exploits did not go unnoticed.

For his marked improvement in the last couple of years, guard Roger Pogoy of Talk 'N Text has emerged as a crucial member of the Philippine national team, something that did not escape the eyes of FIBA, the world's governing body in amateur basketball.

A list released Tuesday included Pogoy among the most improved players in confederation since the Asia Cup 2017 to the first window of the Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers last February.

In 2017, a younger Pogoy played 16.7 minutes per game, averaging 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while serving as one of the team's primary defenders on the wing while Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo took charge on offense.

He went on to play for the Philippines in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, and was one of the veterans tapped to lead a young Gilas Pilipinas squad in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.

Against Indonesia, Pogoy put up 16 points and 6 rebounds, while playing just under 23 minutes. The Philippines ran away with a 100-70 victory on the road.

FIBA is putting an asterisk on Gilas' upcoming game against South Korea in the second window as "a crucial indicator" of Pogoy's improvement. Against their rivals in 2017, Pogoy had 12 points in a disappointing 118-86 defeat in the quarterfinals.

In a recent appearance on "2OT," Pogoy marveled at how his career has progressed, to the point where he is now a major factor for the Philippine national team. Selected by TNT KaTropa in the "special" draft in 2016, Pogoy went on to become the PBA Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star.

"Ang daming nagsasabi sa akin na sa Cebu lang daw ako magaling, kasi noong unang punta ko sa FEU (Far Eastern University), 'di kaagad ako gamit. Tapos sa Cebu, noong high school ako, MVP ako. Parang sabi nila, 'Ah sa Cebu lang 'yan magaling'," Pogoy tol Camille Narredo of ABS CBN.

"Ilang years ako nagtiis rin sa FEU, kasi pasundot-sundot lang 'yung pasok ko," he added. "Tiis saka sipag lang talaga."