When the final buzzer rung out to formalize the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles’ return to the UAAP finals, it not only signaled the end of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws’ campaign but also the finale to the career of one of the league’s most memorable characters – Arvin Tolentino. And both sides of the SMART Araneta Coliseum made sure to cheer for him as he made his final bow.
The former San Beda Red Cub was limited to just five points, three rebounds and one steal in 19.67 minutes of action in his final outing for FEU. It was a disappointing evening for the man who knocked the De La Salle Green Archers out in their playoff match but his former team just piled misery onto him and his teammates for 40 minutes.
“It’s actually ups and downs throughout my UAAP career eh, not just this season — with Ateneo, when I failed, and with FEU..
“Last year, we lost sa semis. One stop lang siya. This year, I was out for three games. Then ito, we lost to my former team pa. Wala namang magagawa eh. Past is past,” commented Tolentino.
“Whatever happened, I’ll take it. Walang mangyayari if magre-regret pa ko, I just have to focus on what’s ahead for me.”
To say that Tolentino had a roller coaster run in the UAAP is an understatement. On one hand, his game winner against the Green Archers will live long in the memory of the league’s fans but on the other end, he got ejected twice which in turn incurred a three-game suspension this season.
“Syempre, ‘yung mga tao they’re just watching the game. They don’t really know what’s happening in the basketball court. Ako before, naging fan din ako. They’re gonna have something negative to say always. But I just have to understand. Dun sa mga tao na sumuporta sa’min, sa akin, throughout my UAAP career, I’m super thankful sa kanila dahil through highs and lows, suporta pa rin sila sa’kin,” said the forward.
“I’ve done a lot of regretful things, pero I don’t really wanna regret anything coming out of my UAAP career.”
Amidst the lows, however, was a player who enjoyed tremendous personal success. He may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but when he was on his day, he was a game winner either for the Blue Eagles or the Tamaraws. And he was obviously proud of certain moments.
“Number one of course ‘yung game-winner ko last game (against La Salle). Of course ‘yung Rookie of the Year [season] ko. Then ‘yung game ko sophomore year against UST, when Kiefer [Ravena] was out with an injury. Nakapag-deliver ako,” said the 22-year-old Gilas cadet.
“Siyempre, paglipat ko sa FEU. ‘Yung first ever game ko sa FEU, how the community accepted me, sobrang nakakataba ng puso.”
At the end of the day, though, the UAAP is a students’ sports league. Every single thing that the student-athletes experience in its various competitions should help them become better people on and off the playing venue. Ultimately, that’s what Tolentino wants for himself.
“Of course naman. ‘Yun ‘yung palagi kong sinasabi sa sarili ko. Whatever happens, learn, move forward. I cannot really move forward if wala ako matutunan sa mga nangyari, whether it be positive or negative. Right now, I’ve learned a lot from this game, from this season, from my UAAP career, and I’m just gonna move forward,” explained Tolentino.
Tolentino may not have won a gold medal in his four-year UAAP career, but there’s a silver lining to everything and if this is his, then he may have very well made the most of his collegiate career.
“I’ve been a better person, a better player. Lahat ‘to na-experience ko sa UAAP. Marami akong natutunan.”