Filipino-Greek William Navarro showcased his all-around brilliance in Ateneo-Philippines' 98-65 rout of Lithuania in the 40th William Jones Cup on Friday.
Navarro exploded for 20 points against the Lithuanian pro club LSU-Atletas, after averaging 3.75 points in his first four games in the tournament. He also tallied five rebounds, five assists, four steals, and a block in 23 minutes of play.
Together with Ivorian big man Angelo Kouame, the 21-year-old swingman wreaked havoc in the middle quarters to lift Ateneo to an insurmountable 34-point edge. In that incredible stretch, Navarro displayed his impressive court vision and tenacious defense. He also showcased his ability to score in a variety of ways, including that nice jam in transition in the midst of a 20-0 blast in the third frame.
The chemistry between incoming rookies Navarro and Kouame did not go unnoticed as the two sparked the onslaught that put the Lithuanians away for good. Kouame, who poured in 19 points in 15 minutes, was the lucky recipient of majority of Navarro's nifty passes. It's no surprise that they made an effective tandem because they played together in Ateneo's Team B. It also helps that they are good friends off the court.
"We are really close. He is like my closest friend in the team because he is also my roommate in the dorm," Navarro explained. "We talk a lot and we get to bond every time so yeah, it just showed our chemistry on the court."
With the way he played, Navarro seemed like he's already at home with his new team. A transferee from San Beda, the Blue Eagle rookie served residency for a year and will only see action in the upcoming 81st season of the UAAP. So far, his adjustments had been going smoothly.
"It feels good to be in Ateneo because first of all, everyone knows that Ateneo is one of the best schools in the Philippines," he said. "Everyone that is part of the team is really helping me with everything that I need, like when I have some questions with some plays or anything else whether it's about basketball or academics."
Born to Filipino parents, Navarro found his way home to the Philippines after finishing high school in Greece. Prior to going to Manila for college, he was a member of the juniors team of Greek pro club Panathinaikos.
The 6-foot-5 forward roared with the Red Lions before flying to the Blue Eagles' nest, and now he relishes the chance of representing both his school and his country on the international stage.
"I didn't expect [for] any of this to happen. All I did was to trust God because in the first place I never even thought that I would transfer [to] Ateneo," shared Navarro. "I'm very blessed for having this opportunity to be able to play for the Jones Cup because not everyone is being given a chance to play there. I'm just really thankful for everything."