Daily Journal Sports File
Half Moon Bay center Rico Nuno averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds in three games as the Cougars won the Burlingame Lions Club Invitational. Nuno was named tournament MVP.
In a league where having a dominant center usually translates into a lot of wins, the Half Moon Bay boys’ basketball team is living large right about now.
At 6-0 for the fourth straight year, the forecast points to a very successful basketball campaign for the Cougars. And a lot of that has to do with their man in the middle — No. 22, Rico Nuno.
“We’re not surprising anybody,” said Half Moon Bay head coach Rich Forslund. “You’re going to start getting people’s best shot. People know about us. They know this is the year where we have eight seniors. This will be the best year we’ve had, well since I’ve been here. [The players are] slowly but surely embracing that concept.”
No one has embraced this idea of greatness better than Nuno. With one of the best inside games the last couple of years in the Peninsula Athletic League, this season finds Nuno playing up to his potential. A lot of that has to do with his natural basketball gifts on the court. But some of it has to do with Nuno, in his senior season, embracing the idea that, with is size and skill, the PAL is a league where few can keep up with what he can do on the basketball court.
He’s showing signs of that realization. During the Burlingame Lions Club tournament, Nuno was named the Most Valuable Player in what equated to a dominant 18-point, 12-rebound average per game. He and the Cougars also walked away with the tournament’s championship trophy — denying the host Panthers of the prize for the second straight season.
For his MVP efforts, Nuno is the Daily Journal Athlete of the Week.
“I think he performed very well in all three games,” Forslund said. “He’s taken a much greater leadership role on and off the court. He’s much more vocal than he’s ever been. ... I don’t think there are a lot of kids born with those leadership qualities and maturity level. I think it’s something he’s definitely worked on and now has kind of embraced that role. Before, he shunned away from the spotlight and now I think he kind of enjoys it.”
Winning, and playing at a very high level, helps with enjoying the spotlight. And the swagger Nuno carries around with him right now is something special to watch.
In the Lions’ opener, Nuno went for 19 points and 13 rebounds in a nice statement win over Aragon High School. He then followed that up with an 18-and-7 performance against a tough Menlo-Atherton team. Nuno saved his best game for last. In a duel with Burlingame’s own big man, Nick Loew, Nuno out-shined his counterpart by scoring 18 points and pulling down 15 boards.
“That was pretty darn good,” Forslund said. “He’s one of the senior captain and he’s really matured this year.”
And it’s because of this maturity that Half Moon Bay has the chance to do something really special. Forslund said Nuno and fellow senior Corey Cilia bring a calming effect to the Cougars. Last year, in tough games like the ones against Aragon, M-A and Burlingame, Half Moon Bay would have came apart during a couple of big runs. This year, with Nuno leading the charge, the Cougars don’t panic and look to No. 22.
In return, Nuno delivers.
“They’re showing they’re seniors — no longer sophomores or juniors — they’re stepping up and kind of relishing that role,” Forslund said. “And for the most part, they’ve (Nuno and Corey Cilia) performed brilliantly.”