Encho is a Throwback


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I have seen that scoring sequence before.

Off an opponent’s turnover or a missed long ball, the De La Salle team I knew back in college had that all-too-familiar reply. Back in the UAAP in the early 2000s, the Green Archers would floor the gas pedal during such opportunities, looking to punish the opposing squad by scoring in transition with ease.

Even if the opponent catches up on defense, there was a certain Lasallian player who knew how to elude his defender and still score a field goal.

Burning the floor, screeching to a halt, spinning either left or right, leaving the defense behind before hoisting a gorgeous one-hander.

Watching Encho Serrano turn the open court into a slalom Saturday afternoon against the UST Growling Tigers took me back to the old days when I watched – in full amazement – Mac Cardona, the former De La Salle spitfire known for his unorthodox floater that fooled most defenders.

Sure, Ateneo’s Larry Fonacier telegraphed that floater in the Game 1 of the 2002 Seniors finals, but for the majority of his UAAP career, Cardona had that one weapon of his in automatic – together with the spin move that sets it all up.

Serrano gave me a free ride on the time machine with his pirouette, with the gung-ho attitude and that “nostalgic” right-handed finish.

It seemed like UAAP Seasons 64 to 67 again, with “Captain Hook” zig-zagging his way to the basket for a twinner.

Even on the half court sets, Serrano had that Cardona vibe on his offensive repertoire: isolated against a single defender, drive to the middle or to the baseline, power-dribble to a stop, pivot right, one-handed scoop. Two points off pure guts and grit from the Lasallian sophomore.

Forget the jump shot. Serrano found ways to puncture that UST zone, en route to a career game, finishing with 29 points.

Serrano’s explosion finally happened in the most opportune time, with the team looking to close out the first round on a winning note. After that deflating one-point loss to the UP Fighting Maroons last Wednesday, all the Archers wanted was to move on and thread the path back to victory.