MANILA -- Severino “Nonoy” Baclao’s unexpected feat as this year’s top pick in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) did not surprise his topnotch mentors as both attested to the sheer talent and humility of the 23-year-old standout.

Ateneo coach Norman Black, who won back-to-back titles in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) with Baclao as his defense specialist, congratulated his former ward’s newly-found success as the finest addition for Air 21 Express.

“I’m really happy for Nonoy. It’s great for him and for his family because he can now help them well through his earnings in the PBA. As a man who comes from humble beginnings, it’s good to see him play there. I hope he will treat us if he visits our practice this week,” he said, eliciting laughter from the press.

Aside from Black, the man who called the shots for the Philippine Patriots in their successful championship run in the first ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) last February only have the nicest words reserved for Baclao.

“He’s a great player. He’s selfless inside the court. As a coach, I’m very happy that he made it this far,” said mentor Louie Alas, who is also a three-time champion mentor for the Letran Knights in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Baclao is the second Bacolod native in 16 years to achieve the illustrious billing after Noli Locsin in 1994 (Ginebra). (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)