Newly selected starting point guard for the Dalhousie University men’s basketball team, Jordan Aquino-Serjue, is working hard to compete above the level of former point guard Ritchie Kanza Mata.
“I want to show that even though Ritchie was really good I wanted to be better then him,” says Aquino-Serjue. “I want everyone to remember me.”
Aquino-Serjue recalls moments when he was walking on the court for the first time as a starter and being compared to Kanza Mata.
“Honestly, I feel like I have to fill in his shoes. Every time I play, they mention Ritchie and I’m like ‘ugh’. And he’s one of my real close friends and I like that but I want to be better then him,” he says with a chuckle and then a soft sigh.
“But I like being compared to him though, cause he’s one of the greatest.”
Kanza Mata was an AUS Championship MVP, three-time AUS Championship All-Star, two-time AUS Defensive Player of the Year and AUS First team All-Star, and a member of the AUS All-Rookie Team.
Aquino-Serjue was also a member of the AUS All-Rookie Team in his first year. Currently, Kanza Mata holds the record for the most individual career assists in the AUS conference – and Aquino-Serjue wants to break it.
“He broke the AUS assists record and I’m trying to break that.”
Kanza Mata holds the individual career assists record with a total of 605 assists.
Aquino-Serjue is at the top of the AUS assists this season with 56 assists as of Jan. 18.
He’s on pace to finish this season with 200 career assists; in each of the next two seasons he needs 203 assists to break the record. His chances are slim considering the league record for most assists in a season is 168.
This shows how much self-confidence Aquino-Serjue has.
Kanza Mata has had a big impact on Aquino Serjue’s playing style.
“The good thing about Jordan is that he had a couple of years to play with Ritchie and learn with Ritchie and I think that in lot of ways he learnt some of what made Ritchie a really good player,” says Head Coach Rick Plato.
Being a point guard is like being an extension of the coach. It is Aquino-Serjue’s role to know the plays and which plays to make in the heat of the game.
Aquino-Serjue says, “You have to know who’s hot -been scoring the most points- and be able to get them the ball.”
Aquino-Serjue recalls his earlier training seasons with Kanza Mata on assuming the point guard role and how he had to restructure his game.
“I felt like when I first came here my style of play was like a scorer,” he says. “I wasn’t really a point guard so coming here I was like ‘I have to be the point guard’ and he (Kanza Mata) taught me about passing.”
Before coming to Dalhousie Aquino-Serjue was a “drive player.” He would always go for the basket to score, but not anymore.
“It’s not about the drive to score, but it was about passing as well.”
Plato believes that Aquino-Serjue is determined, works hard on his game and has assumed the leadership role on the court as point guard – which isn’t an easy task.
“The responsibilities and demands of playing starting lead guard for the top team in the country is a huge responsibility and he – Aquino-Serjue- doesn’t take it lightly.”
Aquino-Serjue knows there are high expectations for him filling the role of point guard after Kanza Mata, but he’s excited for the task. He believes that playing with Kanza Mata made him work harder.
“It made me want to always beat him and get above him.”
As for the upcoming games in the season, Plato wants a healthy and better team. After loosing four starters last year, his veteran players this year, like Aquino-Serjue need to be able to carry the team.
Plato says, “I’m looking for Jordan to be a leader and a stable of force.”
As of Jan. 18, Dalhousie is tied with Acadia for second in the league and Aquino-Serjue hopes to bring home a fourth consecutive AUS Championship this season for Dalhousie University.
Aquino-Serjue says, “Even though I’m starting doesn’t mean anything to me. I just want to play hard no matter what.”
“I just want to win.”