One of the final scenes of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws’ UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball campaign was devastating for Arvin Tolentino and the community.
Back in November 22, 2017, the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the Tamaraws were figuring in a heated game. With 8.5 ticks left and the game knotted at 75-all, Tolentino tried to take the play on his own. However, he fumbled the ball, sending the game into overtime.
“Honestly, naisip ko mananalo kami. But when I felt na nandun na yung tira ko, yung split-second na tumingin ako sa clock, yun na yung naging factor kung bakit ko nabitawan yung bola,” was all Tolentino could say afterwards.
It has taken 364 days for Tolentino to redeem himself.
With FEU down 68-70 and a few seconds remaining, Jasper Parker found the 6-foot-6 stretch big man at the top of the arc.
“To be honest, naisip ko talaga yung last year. We had a chance to make it sa Finals and I blew it up. Yung nasayang ko na-opportunity still haunts me,” recalled the 22-year-old.
“Yun talaga ang iniisip ko at sabi ko never again, never again.”
With little hesitation, Tolentino threw up a rainbow, swishing the net to punch FEU’s ticket to the Final Four.
It was a much-needed shot for the former San Beda Red Cub.
After being cut by Ateneo back three years ago, he was able to find home in FEU. However, it has been trying at best.
Just this year, Tolentino sustained two disqualifying fouls; as a result, he was banned for three games. Still, the coaches and the community kept their faith in him.
“Hindi ko masabi kung ano yung nangyari sa laro pero ito yung… Lahat ng sacrifice at hard work namin, dun napunta,” expressed Tolentino, while trying to fight off tears. “I’ve been working hard since got here in FEU.
“I changed myself, my coaches changed me. I just want to give everything sa FEU.”
Besides repaying the trust given to him, he also wanted to pay tribute to his teammates. Even if he was a transferee, they still embraced him and lifted him back up.
“Ayoko isipin ng tao na nanalo kami dahil sa shot ko. Every shot was as big in this game.”
And after all his struggles, trials, and tribulations, the one thing that kept Tolentino going was his faith.
“Nagdasal ako. Buti na lang sinagot ni Lord yung dasal ko.”
Never again, he said. Never again.