Rookie Teodoro draws Johnny Abarrientos comparisons from Cone in impactful debut

Newly-acquired rookie Teytey Teodoro certainly didn’t waste any time making a good first impression in game one of his one-conference deal with Ginebra.

The former Jose Rizal University stalwart immediately saw some burn on Sunday, scoring four points in seven minutes during the team’s 90-79 win over the TNT KaTropa.

Teodoro was pleasantly surprised that he hit the court as quickly as he did in the team’s season opener.

“Nagulat ako na opening pa lang. Nung tinawag nga yung pangalan ko, natutulala pa ako. Buti nakapagdeliver ako. Pumasok naman,” he said after the game.

“Syempre, sobrang saya. First game namin, ‘di ko talaga inexpect na gagamitin ako early. Nagulat din ako pero ready ako kasi lagi ko sila pinapanood kung ano man yung ginagawang plays so ayun. Thankful ako sobra doon.”

His calm demeanor and steady play in limited minutes were already enough for head coach Tim Cone to liken him to a former superstar who played under the 21-time champion mentor himself.

“I love Tey. I think he’s greatly skilled. I think there’s a presence about him that he plays with. He doesn’t get rattled, nothing overcomes him. You see that right away. He plays with a kind of a Johnny Abarrientos-like type of personality where just nothing rattles him,” Cone mused.

Cone, of course, knew what he was talking about when he made the comparison. Abarrientos was a key part of those multi-titled Alaska teams in the 1990s that even won a Grand Slam in 1996, and he thinks Teodoro has shades of the undaunted play that the ‘Fyling A’ flaunted back in the day.

“He’s prepared for anything and you can throw anything right at him and he’ll be ready,” he added.

Cone might have even played Teodoro in the second half if not for the stellar play of his other guards, but he did say that he could easily put him in any other situation without hesitation owing to the maturity of his game.

“I wouldn’t have been afraid to play him in the second half, but Scottie (Thompson), LA (Tenorio) and Sol (Mercado) were playing so well. I just didn’t want to disturb that,” he explained.

“But I’m not afraid to play that kid. I really am. He can play in big moments. He just needs to learn a little bit more about our defense and our techniques. He’s an accomplished offensive player. He just gets it.”

Teodoro still has a lot tof work in store for him if he wants to cement himself in the rotation, with Cone noting that he still has to get acclimated to Ginebra’s system as well as get in better shape. But the rookie’s already off to a better start, and the possibility of the needed improvements following easily probably isn’t that far.

“He’s got a lot to do, he’s got a lot to prove, still. But we like him, we like his presence on the floor,” the mentor said.

For his part, Teodoro promised to continue making the most of whatever playing time he gets while absorbing lessons from those around him.

“Basta ako ready lang ako. Si coach Tim, palagi nya sinasabi. Marami pakong dapat matutunan lalo na sa system nya. Ready lang ako,” he said.

“Medyo may pressure kasi nage-expect sya sa akin ng magandang laro. Ngayon, basta quality minutes lang ako.”

(Photo credit: PBA Images)

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