UAAP: 'Too short' Asistio ends Ateneo stint as back-to-back champion

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — As a college player, there's no better feeling than to give glory to your alma mater.

Anton Asistio did that for Ateneo, but what made it sweeter was that it was in his final playing year as the team captain.

The Blue Eagles captured their second consecutive UAAP men's basketball championship Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

His journey to collegiate success, however, did not come easy as he had to overcome a lot of trials.

Because of his small stature, Asistio sat as a bench reserve in his first two years. Then it became worse after being relegated to Team B the following season.

"When I was first year and second year, I made it to the line-up and that was my dream ever since I was a kid. But it wasn't how I saw myself because I wasn't really playing," he reflected.

"And then in my third year, I was sent down to Team B, but instead of seeing it as a downgrade, I looked at it as an opportunity, an opportunity to get better, because the fact that they sent me down means I still lack something as a player," he said.

A new era came in Asistio's fourth year as the Blue Eagles tapped a foreign coach in Tab Baldwin.

"Then lucky enough, in my fourth year, a new head coach was appointed, coach Tab. And I knew it was another chance, so it was a clean slate for everyone. He's a foreigner so he didn't really know anyone," he narrated.

The veteran tactician narrated the transformation of Asistio from a one-dimensional guard to a reliable two-way player.

"'He's too short, he's too weak, he's too slow, and he can't handle the ball.' And this is all true, and he knows it. And so at least I had to give him a fair shot and tell him those things. And so what did we end up with? We ended up with a guy who got in the weight room, changed his body, changed his mentality, continued to be a great shooter, became very dependable handling the ball, and also is one of our more dependable defensive players," Baldwin said.

"So of course, he's sitting here today as a graduating senior with all the laurels that he deserves because he worked his tail off to get them," he added.

In his graduating season, Asistio became Ateneo's third leading scorer with 7.6 points per outing on a 43 percent outside shooting.

What's life after college for Asistio?

He said he will join the PBA D-League or the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League

But he plans to finish his Masters Degree in Communication at the Ateneo first.