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Kevin Ferrer: Limitless Upside

By Paolo Mariano Posted Jul 9th 2013

Despite his easygoing ways, UST's Kevin Ferrer has shown flashes of brilliance and has the potential to be one of the league's elite players.

It’s easy to be envious of Kevin Ferrer. Basketball just looks so effortless for him. The way he shoots, the way he handles the ball, the way he treads the court, the way he glides to the basket, everything seems so easy. His movements are unintentionally economical. His natural talents simply don’t require him to expend too much energy. 

But like other inherently skilled players, he has the tendency to be complacent. He isn’t as perpetually intense as Jeric Teng or as silently focused as Karim Adbul. The lanky University of Santo Tomas (UST) swingman is a laid-back, easygoing, happy-go-lucky guy. He likes to flash his braces-adorned smile, fool around, and well, play. After all, he’s just 20 years old.

Mahilig ‘yun manghampas ng b*yag (He likes to hit our balls),” said fellow team jokester Ed Daquioag. 

Minsan lalapitan ka niya, tapos (aawayin ka kunwari), sasabihin niya ‘ano, papalag ka, papalag ka?’ (Sometimes, he’ll approach you to jokingly look for a fight),” added Robert Hainga.

Maharot ‘yun (he’s very playful),” said Aljon Mariano.

For Ferrer, basketball is supposed to be fun all the time. And maybe, that’s the problem. 

With his athleticism, versatility, and innate feel for the game, the 6-foot-4 junior could easily put up high numbers every game. He could easily be one of the league’s top five players. But then again, while having a cool demeanor is helpful, it could also hold back his development. Not serious enough. Not driven enough. Not motivated enough. 

But if equally easygoing guys like Ryan Araña, Wesley Gonzales, and Dylan Ababou can win a UAAP title, why not Ferrer? If his jovial mood makes him play well, who are we to question him? Besides, it already won him Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in the Juniors with the UST Tiger Cubs, a slot on the RP Youth Team, and other accolades. 
“I just enjoy the game. I don’t pressure myself too much. Kapag ginagawa ko kasi ‘yun, mas lalo akong nawawala sa focus (Because when I do that, I lose focus even more),” said Ferrer. “‘Di ba sabi nga nila, have fun (don’t they always say, have fun)?” 

“I don’t think his fun-loving attitude hinders him. He’s a different player now, he’s more mature,” said UST head coach Pido Jarencio. “Pinagsasabihan ko siya kapag sobra na ‘yung pagbibiro, pero ‘yung willingness to win, lagi namang nandun sa kanya (I remind him when he’s joking too much, but the willingness to win, it’s always in him).” 

Born in Makati, Ferrer grew up in a basketball family. Maybe that explains why he’s so natural on the court. It’s in the genes. His grandfather played in the now-defunct MICAA, his father played for Lyceum, and his uncle for Letran. His older brother, John Michael was teammates with Ogie Menor, James Martinez, and Jay-R Taganas in San Beda High School. His younger brother, Vince plays for the Tiger Cubs and was selected to the Jr. NBA All-Star Team last April.

He was inspired by his family, who he also said is a group of comedians, to pursue basketball. Now, he has a bright future ahead of him. After a solid rookie season, he became more of a lockdown defender last year, shadowing the likes of Ray Parks, Jeron Teng, and high school nemesis Kiefer Ravena.

In their come-from-behind win over Adamson University last Saturday, Ferrer top-scored for the Growling Tigers with 17 points on top of four rebounds and four blocks, showcasing yet again his all-around talent and limitless upside.  

He’s fully aware though that he’s not the team’s alpha dog. Maybe that’s why he can afford to relax and joke around at times. He knows that he’s not expected to score 20 points per game and carry the team on his boney shoulders. Let Teng, Abdul, and Mariano take care of that. No pressure. His time will come.

“We’re a strong team. Pinupuno ko lang ‘yung mga iba pang kulang (I’m just filling up our other holes),” said Ferrer. “I’m more confident than ever. I’ve already been through different game situations. Yes, I have more responsibilities, but I’m handling the pressure better.” 

One added duty is trying to be more of a leader, given his ample experience in high-level hoops. During the off-season, he helped Blackwater Sports rule the PBA D-League with 11.2 PPG and 6.4 RPG. 

“I share to my younger teammates all the things I’ve picked up. ‘Di naman ako madamot (I’m not greedy),” said Ferrer with a laugh. 

But isn’t it ironic that a guy who likes to kid around is the one who’s supposed to set a good example? How will his teammates trust him? Is he the ideal leader?

Like coach, like player perhaps. Off the court, Jarencio is one of the funniest guys you’ll meet. In fact, he’s the team’s most prolific joker. But on it, he’s tenacious, in-your-face, and intimidating. He doesn’t shy on cursing his players when he’s frustrated. Even though Ferrer isn’t as emotional as his mentor, he knows when to get down to business as well.

Nakikinig naman ‘yung mga kakampi ko, kasi alam nila kapag laro na, seryoso na ko (My teammates do listen to me, because they know, when it’s game time, I get serious),” said Ferrer. 

Minsan kasi, kailangan mo rin i-clear ‘yung utak mo. ‘Yung pakikipagbiruan, ‘yun ‘yung paraan niya para gawin ‘yun (Sometimes you also need to clear your mind. The fooling around, that’s his way of doing it),” said Daquioag.

It's difficult to find fault in a kid who just enjoys playing the game he loves. Not every player is as maniacally competitive or as obsessively driven as Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. It’s possible that Ferrer might not reach his optimum potential because of his easygoing ways. That’s all up to him. But when he does, and most probably he will, we’ll be even more envious.