Newbie Tyler Tio is appreciative of former college coach Tab Baldwin for being honest with him about the areas of his game that require improvement so he may improve as a player in the PBA.
The Phoenix playmaker acknowledged that when he was considering entering the 2022 rookie draft last summer, he first spoke with his Ateneo mentor.
“Kasi before my last year tinanong ko na siya what can I do to be a better player. And he gave me some of my weaknesses to work on,” without going into specifics, Tio stated what the former Gilas Pilipinas coach believed were the player’s weaknesses.
“But he said my game right now is actually fit for the pro game. And I guess that gave me the confidence entering the draft na baka kaya ko pala yun, and that the pro game is meant for me.”
According to Tio’s recent performances for Phoenix, who is presently riding a five-game winning streak in its PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign, it is.
At the Ynares Center in Antipolo, the Phoenix guard, who was limited to six points, grabbed the vital rebound that led to two clutch free throws in the final two seconds to seal the Fuel Masters’ 91-88 victory over the TNT Tropang Giga.
The Fuel Masters moved to 5-3 as a result of Tio’s four rebounds, four assists, and one block.
Although falling to the second round of the draft, where Phoenix head coach Topex Robinson took him at pick No. 14 overall, Tio, in Baldwin’s opinion, was destined to carve out a name for himself in Asia’s fledgling professional league.
“Tyler is obviously going to be a very, very good professional basketball player in the PBA. He’s so clever, and now he can focus fully on just being a professional basketball player,” when questioned about Tio’s unexpected performance thus far, who leads the league in three-point shooting and is a strong contender for Rookie of the Year, Baldwin had this to say.
Tio is shooting 37 percent from outside the arc this conference while averaging 13.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists while many fans were taken aback by Tio’s ascension, as he is currently averaging 16.2 points on 42 percent shooting from three-point range and 4.7 assists when The Fuel Masters have played 33 minutes in six games, recording 1.5 rebounds and 1.0 steal.
Rising Phoenix star claimed that occasionally, he still attends Ateneo sessions to speak with Baldwin in person.
“Bumibisita ako sa practices ng Ateneo from time to time and doon kami (Baldwin) nag-uusap,” Tio said. “It’s always really nice to hear from coach Tab.”
Given the skillset the Ateneo shooter possesses—one that he is showcasing in his first season with Phoenix Super LPG—the Ateneo coach acknowledged that he has always predicted that the player would succeed in the professional league.
“I really felt he’d be very good pro,” he said of Tio, who was taken in the second round at 14th overall in the past PBA Rookie Draft.
Although Tio was in a strong position at Phoenix under coach Topex Robinson, Baldwin remarked that Tio expected to rediscover his feet in the PBA.
According to the former Gilas Pilipinas coach, Robinson’s transition from the full-court pressuring squad he had at Lyceum in the college leagues to his current approach at Phoenix was ideal for Tio.
Baldwin sees it as a match made in heaven as Tio keeps reminding him of his successful high school years with Xavier.