Over 20 years after the first one, another “skyscraper” is being “built” in the San Marcelino campus of Adamson University.
Meet young Matthew Aquino, the six-foot-seven, 17-year-old son of former Adamson University and PBA great Marlou.
Matthew will be making his UAAP debut on July 13 when the rookie-laden Falcons open their Season 77 campaign against Ateneo, 24 years after his father first donned the blue and white uniform of Adamson.
Comparisons with his famous father are inevitable, of course, and this early, the Lourdes School of Madaluyong product is wary about managing expectations of basketball fans.
“Grabe ang ine-expect ng tao sa akin lalo na ngayon,” Matthew said. “Tinatanong nila, ‘Kasing-galing mo ba ang dad mo?’”
Marlou, who will be returning to his alma mater this season as an assistant coach, played three seasons for the Falcons in the early 1990s before embarking on a 15-year professional career that saw him being named Rookie of the Year in 1996. His six-foot-nine frame earned him the moniker “The Skyscraper”, and he became famous as much for his height as for his trademark “kili-kili” or “jolens” shot, where he would scoop the ball underneath an opponent’s armpit.
But while the “kili-kili” shot came naturally to Marlou, Matthew s admits he hasn’t quite mastered it yet even after lessons from his dad.
“Oo tinuro niya. Okay lang ako pero hindi kasing-galing niya. Siya, sanay na sanay na. Ako, bago pa lang."
Matthew so idolized his father that even before graduating from high school he already decided he wanted to play college ball for Adamson.
“Siya talaga, from the very start. Si Dad talaga any source of inspiration ko since I was eight years old.”
In fact, he attended the Adamson tryouts without telling Marlou, intent on surprising his family later on. But it was he who got the surprise when Marlou was picked by new Falcons coach Kenneth Duremdes to be one of his assistants.
“Dapat isu-surprise ko siya na sa Adamson ako maglalaro,” Matthew said. “Hindi ko alam na magco-coach pala siya. Sobrang saya ko talaga. Nagulat nga ako at nakita ko ang article na coach na siya. So tinulungan na rin niya ako sa tryouts.”
While he is only two inches shorter than his six-foot-nine father, don’t expect Matthew to also be a force in the paint. His style of play his different, and he is more comfortable as a small forward.
“Different type of player sila,” says Duremdes, who played alongside Marlou in college. “Marlou is more of a post player at si Matthew is more of a small forward, face-up player. But he’s more agile than Marlou dahil nakakatakbo siya up and down. Shotblocker din. Mas nakakatalon siya kumpara kay Marlou.”
Matthew agrees with his coach’s observation of his father, who was known to be rather slow footed in the PBA.
“Hindi kasi mahilig tumakbo si Dad,” he says with a laugh.
Duremdes is also quick to play down expectations of his rookie.
'Give him two to three years, malaki ang magiging pagbabago sa laro niya,” says the former PBA star. “But he needs to focus more on his strength. But agility and quickness, mayroon na.”
Two to three years should be just fine. After all, a skyscraper isn’t built overnight.