For all you basketball fans, here’s a profile on an athlete who has risen from the ranks and is definitely an exciting athlete you have to look out for in next year’s UAAP. I give you…Tonino “Zags” Gonzaga of the Ateneo Blue Eagles!
This was published in the October 2011 hardcopy issue of The GUIDON, in the Sports section and in November 2011 for the online version
Unsung Heroes by Ally M. Lim
Basketball: TONINO GONZAGA
Late in the first quarter, while Kirk Long and Keifer Ravena sit on the bench after having started the game, is his time to shine. “When I come off the bench, I give energy to the team. When I make good plays, it helps them feel energized and helps them pick up the pace,” he says.
From nine minutes of total playing time in UAAP Season 71, to averaging 13 minutes per game this season. Filling out the number 7 jersey, Luis Lorenzo Gonzaga, better known, as “Tonino” or “Zags” is the 23 year-old guard who has been hustling his way to the top ever since his grade school years.
Though, he may not get as much face time as his other teammates, the limelight is not his goal. For him, it’s a never-ending mantra of perseverance and hard work.
A true-blue Atenean, Tonino’s journey to the senior’s team can be traced back to his father. “My dad actually played for team B in Ateneo,” he says.
“He talked about it a lot when I was young, so I got interested.”
In sixth grade, Tonino tried out for the varsity team and made it. Playing for his alma mater in high school, he was a member of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets team that won the championship in 2006, along with long-time teammate, Bacon Austria.
When college came around though, Tonino was not recruited, and thus spent a year in team B.
The setback, however, did not dampen his hopes, “I just kept on working hard because results always show when I work hard day-in, and day-out,” Tonino shares. His perseverance eventually paid off when in 2008—his sophomore year—Coach Norman Black invited Tonino to join the senior’s team.
Inspired by the hard work and selflessness exhibited by his teammates and coaches, Tonino does not take opportunities for granted. “I come in extra early. Our practice usually starts at 4:30 pm for weights but I come in at 2:00 pm. I start shooting or getting therapy. Whatever I need to maintain my game,” he shares.
Currently in his second to the last year of college, Tonino strives to be a good example in practice by consistently giving his best at practice and at games. He hopes the younger athletes will do the same when their time comes.
“I take a lot of pride in improving everyday since I work really hard and people noticing that I’ve been improving just adds fuel to the fire that’s burning.”
Read the online edition of the GUIDON here.