MANILA, Philippines – In his first four seasons for Far Eastern University (FEU), Ron Dennison took a grand total of 120 field goals, or just over three shots in every game that he played.
The low number of his attempts makes sense – there were plenty of scorers in FEU, from Terrence Romeo to Mike Tolomia to Mac Belo, and in any case, Dennison had always been more of a defensive-minded player anyway. He left the shooting to his teammates and buckled down to work, guarding MVP candidates every game – from Ray Parks, to Jeron Teng, to Kiefer Ravena.
In his final year, however, Dennison has emerged as a more offensive-minded player for the Tamaraws. Through FEU's first two games in UAAP Season 80, he has already taken 27 field goals, and made 17 of them for an efficient 63% clip. His average of 18.5 points per game is third-highest in the league.
"Noong off season, pinractice ko talaga 'yung offense ko, kasi 'di naman pwede na mag-rely lang ako sa defense," explained Dennison, who is now the undisputed leader of the young FEU team.
"Sa team ko ngayon, kailangan na nagi-score din ako," he admitted.
FEU still has plenty of offensive weapons, including transferee and former Rookie of the Year Arvin Tolentino, to hyper-athletic guards RJ Ramirez and Jasper Parker. But in their first two games, it is their defensive ace in Dennison who has taken the lead in scoring.
"Sa akin naman, kung ano ang ma-contribute ko sa team, 'yun ang ginagawa ko," said Dennison.
If this means taking three times as many shots as he normally would, then Dennison will readily do it. Nevertheless, the guard insists that his newfound scoring touch does not mean that he is changing his focus.
"'Yung score ko, hindi ko hinahanap," Dennison stressed. "Kusang dumadating. 'Yun ang palaging sinasabi sa akin ni coach, na huwag mong hanapin ang score mo, kasi kusang darating 'yan. Focus ka sa defense, kasi 'yun ang strength ko daw."
More than his scoring totals, it is still on defense that Dennison shines. He has already built a reputation as a pesky, physical – opponents would even say dirty – defender, and he vowed to not let up on that end of the floor.
"Always 'yan," he said of his defensive effort. "Nandiyan ang defense ko. 'Di pwede 'yan mawala, kasi ako nagbibigay ng energy sa loob ng court namin eh."
For FEU coach Olsen Racela, Dennison's improved scoring will be a big factor in the player's future in the sport, but he believes that defense will continue to be the guard's calling card.
"For his development as a player, malaking bagay 'yun," said Racela. "I think for his growth and development as a player, okay din na he's developing his offense."
"But ang trademark ni Ron ay ang depensa," he stressed. "I think 'yun ang makakapagdala sa kanya to the next level."
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