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Player of the Week March 9 to 15

MARLOU Aquino did not take a sip from the legendary Fountain of Youth. But the way he’s been playing of late, one begins to wonder.

Aquino regained some of the vitality of his early PBA years to lead Sta. Lucia Realty to back-to-back wins and earn honors as the Motolite/Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period March 9 to 15.

Not bad for a 36-year-old who many thought was at the twilight of his career and is now making everybody raise their eyebrows in amazement with the new zing in his game.

As a result, Aquino is putting up numbers that rank among the top three in the team and the Realtors as a whole are in the thick of the hunt in the Fiesta Conference.

Realtors coach Boyet Fernandez kind of expected the 1996 Rookie of the Year to be more than the forgettable player he was during the season-opening Philippine Cup.

“I am not surprised with Marlou’s game,” said Fernandez. “We had a talk at the end of the first conference and when I saw him working hard to get back into shape when we started our practices I knew he will be playing like what he’s showing now.”

The 6-foot-9 center has also been free of the injuries that have plagued him the last few years, but Fernandez maintains it’s all about Aquino’s mindset that was firmly focused in the face of a nagging injury to Dennis Espino that kept the latter out of their first two games.

Few could fault Fernandez for raising Aquino’s bar.

In an 80-76 squeaker over defending champion Barangay Ginebra last Wednesday, Aquino scored 13 points, swatted away five shots and grabbed three rebounds in 29 minutes.

He followed those up with 14 points, nine rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist in 30 minutes and helped Sta. Lucia overcome Barako Bull, 100-91, last Friday.

Those wins ran up the Realtors’ streak to three straight and jacked their win-loss record to 3-1, second only to unbeaten San Miguel Beer.

The 1996 Governors Cup Best Player of the Conference is also currently leading the conference overall in shotblocks with his 3.3 a game.

It was the first time since a period from April 11 to 17 in 2005 when Aquino was named Player of the Week. He actually shared that recognition early in the 2005 Fiesta Conference elims with then teammate Kenneth Duremdes.

Fernandez firmly believes if Aquino doesn’t waver from his current dedication, he will continue to surprise many–and not only for the remainder of the season.

“I do know Marlou as a person and a player and I do believe in my heart and mind if he just continues to be in shape, he will be around the PBA in the years to come,” Fernandez stated. (NCo)

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