By Jomari Carreon
Jeth Troy Rosario has been a household name in Philippine basketball for at least the past two years. The National University Bulldogs alumnus is now one of the most promising young ballers in the country. Many fans started to recognize him and his game but only few of them knew the difficult journey that he had to go through before he reached stardom.
As Troy’s schoolmate, I have seen first hand how he evolved from being a low – profile player to being the future of the Philippine basketball. He was that guy from NU’s team B that amazed me during the first time that I saw him play. He is tall but mobile, athletic and has a good touch from the perimeter. From that first time I saw him play, I told myself “someday this guy is going to be special”.
Troy suited up for the National University Bulldogs in 2012, the year that the school hosted the UAAP. Expectations were high on him because of his solid performances during his stay with the team B as well as the good potential that he possessed. But he wasn’t able to live up to those expectations for at least his first two seasons. He struggled to find his form because he was bugged with some injuries and when he was healthy he was overshadowed by the Cameroonian import Emannuel Mbe and two – time MVP Bobby Ray Parks. In his 3rd season, doubts circulated around NU community on whether or not their Men’s Basketball team could make it to the Final 4 due to the departure of key players in Dennice Villamor, Robin Roño, Emannuel Mbe, Jeff Javillonar and Bobby Ray Parks Jr.
For Troy however, the departure of these players was an opportunity for him to finally showcase his talent at full display and give a sign of greater things to come for his career. The season marked his breakthrough performance in collegiate ranks. Alongside Gelo Alolino, Paolo Javelona, Alfred Aroga and captain Glenn Khobuntin the Bulldogs pulled off an historic run to give their school its first ever championship in 60 years. Troy doubled his averages and earned himself the most improved player of the year. He showed fans that he was worthy of the award during Game 2 of the Finals when he lead the team to tie the series and force a deciding game 3.
In a span of almost one year after winning a championship with the Bulldogs, Troy’s career grew significantly. The first step started when he clinched another championship with Hapee in the PBA D – League Aspirants Cup, where he lead the team with 20 points and 13 rebounds in the last game of the finals. He was then named as a member of the Gilas cadet who won the gold medal in the SEA games that was held in Singapore. He was the most consistent player on that team despite being surrounded by MVP – caliber players like Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Mac Belo and Earl Scottie Thompson. His most notable performance of the tournament happened in the Semi-Finals against Thailand when he lead the team with a double – double performance of 27 points and 12 rebounds. This performance made his stock in the PBA rookie draft rise to the point that some of sports experts started saying that they wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up being the top overall pick. This performance also enabled Gilas coach Tab Baldwin to make him be the only collegiate player to be a part of the Gilas 3.0 pool.
A Few months later, he was drafted 2nd overall by the Mahindra Enforcers (Formerly known as the Kia Carnivals) only behind the Fil – Tongan Moala Tautua. Eventually, he got traded to the TNT Tropang Texters a week after the draft. Before his PBA rookie season started he teamed up with Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel and Karl Dehesa in the team, Manila North, who won the Silver medal for qualifying round of FIBA’s 3×3 world tour. He also played for Gilas in Taiwan for the Jones Cup wherein they managed to win the Silver medal.
October 24, 2015 marked Troy’s debut in professional ranks. Though, his first few games weren’t that impressive due to limited playing time, as he had to share minutes with veterans in Harvey Carey and Ranidel De Ocampo. Along with this he struggled with adjusting to how fouls are being called at the pro level, up until an incident happened. His Gilas teammate and TNT’s starting Power Forward injured his back during a team weight – lifting session, making him unable to play for the rest of the conference. TNT needed a guy to step up in order to fill up the holes left by their fallen comrade and it was Troy who stepped up big time. He became one of the most consistent performers on the team (winning Best Player of the Game honors multiple times) that let his team to not really miss the absence of their star forward. He ended the first conference of the PBA as the top rookie in terms of statistical points as he led all rookies in scoring and came 2nd in rebounding.
Blessings is no stopping for him as recently, the FIBA just released the 3×3 world rankings. It was him who emerged to be the top among the Filipinos. He was ranked 74th in the world topping his teammate Calvin Abueva who just placed 80th.
A week before the start of the 2nd conference of the PBA, I am pretty sure that fans are excited to see how this emerging superstar will perform. For me personally, I am excited to see how far he can go- this season and beyond.