Troy Mallillin couldn’t have predicted where basketball would take him. In the space of two years, the kid from San Mateo, Rizal who went to high school a few minutes away from home became the star of the CSB-LSGH Junior Blazers and NCAA Juniors MVP.
But while the journey has been a surprise for the 6’3” power forward, the game itself has always come naturally to him. “Para sa akin, ang basketball ay madali,” he says. “Madali mong makuha ang isang bagay kapag gusto mo.”
“Sobrang saya ko noong ni-recruit ako ng LSGH noon,” recalls Troy, who was spotted holding his own against older players in Marikina. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko panibagong pagsubok na naman ito sa buhay ko at kailangan talaga paghirapan.”
A part of the struggle was adjusting to the student culture. Regardless of accuracy, we all know what the stereotype of a La Sallian is. Meanwhile, Troy is a straight-talker in straight Tagalog, more likely to call his friends “pare” than “bro,” more into tinkering with cars than hitting the club.
“Nahirapan ako mag-adjust noon,” he admits. “Humingi lang ako ng mga advice sa family ko and sinunod ko sila…Nagpasalamat ako kay God na binigyan niya ako ng blessing na ‘yon at ng opportunity para makapaglaro at makapagaral ng libre sa magandang school.”
But if Troy had a hard time fitting in on campus, he had no such trouble on the court. Making the most of his playing years with LSGH, Troy took center stage during his final juniors season. The powerhouse forward logged 19.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, willing his team to the third seed—their best elimination round finish in school history.
Ready for what’s next
Barring any last-minute changes of heart, Troy is set to join the defending UAAP champs, the DLSU Green Archers. This would mean joining former CSB-LSGH stars Ricci and Prince Rivero, and more importantly, a dominant team that shows no signs of slowing down.
The challenge will be fighting for minutes on DLSU’s deep, “no-promises” roster. Many skilled players before have languished on their back burner, either burning out or finding success on other teams. (Just ask San Beda’s Robert Bolick.)
Comparisons to the Rivero brothers are inevitable. Troy may be less athletic than the nimble Ricci and less physical than the brusque Prince, but his strength lies in how he embodies the intersection of both skills. It remains to be seen whether he’ll lean towards one or the other as time passes, but for now, transitioning to the small forward position will be easier on him than most.
The reason he plays
Even as he gears up for his college career, Troy makes an effort to dig in his roots a little deeper. Despite moving schools, he still hangs out with his old friends and makes time for life outside basketball.
Troy remains close to his older brother who taught him to play basketball. Their latest hobby? Fixing up secondhand Mistubishi Lancer box types and meeting up with other owners of the iconic 1980s vehicle. “Kinahiligan ko kasi common na ‘yung mga modelong kotse ngayon. Kung baga para maiba naman,” he explains with a laugh.
Troy isn’t here to make early predictions about his promising collegiate career—he’d rather keep going with the flow, leaving himself open to more opportunities like the ones that have changed his life in the past. Maiba naman.
One thing’s for certain: he knows what he’s fighting for. “Inspirasyon ko maglaro, family ko,” Troy says. “Para pagdating ng araw matulungan ko rin sila.”