Moments after a tough Game Three loss that ended San Beda’s three-year run at the top of the NCAA, Calvin Oftana shed tears.
Oftana left those tears on the floor however, knowing that this is just a minor setback for a major comeback next season.
“Sobrang sakit, sobrang sakit sa pagkatalo. Pero gaya nga ng sabi ko, lesson siya. Babawi kami,” reflected the 21-year-old, who is the regular season Most Valuable Player.
“Alam naming babawi kami.”
It was a tough end for the Red Lions, whom many saw as the overwhelming favorites entering the Finals.
Carrying a 32-game winning streak, San Beda fell to Letran in Game One, 64-65. And a crucial miss by Oftana in the endgame would have turned the series around.
Oftana and the Red Lions then bounced back in Game Two, with Oftana providing the go-ahead bucket that led to a 79-76 win to send the series into a winner-take-all.
But in Game Three, the game was once again in the hands of Oftana.
With under 30 seconds left and San Beda down 76-79, Oftana missed a line triple. San Beda still had breaks in the end, but it was not meant to be. The Red Lions came crashing down, 79-81.
And in a series of close games, Oftana conceded that their best was not just good enough this time around.
“Na-short kami. Letran played well — nandun ‘yung effort nila. Nandun din naman ‘yung effort namin pero kapos lang talaga kami. It’s a learning lesson para sa amin. We did well, wala namang sisihan. Coach Boyet [Fernandez] prepared us well. Ganun din ‘yung mga teammates namin,” he admitted.
“It’s really for Letran talaga. They played well. [Jerrick] Balanza, [Bonbon] Batiller, they played well, especially Fran Yu.”