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Despite somber exit, Clare Castro glad to have kept promise to FEU

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Tiebreaker Times Despite somber exit, Clare Castro glad to have kept promise to FEU Basketball FEU News UAAP  UAAP Season 82 Women's Basketball UAAP Season 82 FEU Women's Basketball Clare Castro

When Clare Castro returned to the UAAP a year ago, the towering stalwart of Far Eastern University had redemption in mind.

“Gagawin ko talaga ‘yung best ko para ‘di bumaba ‘yung team namin sa Final Four,” said Castro, who sat out her third playing year for academic reasons, in an interview prior to Season 81.

The 6-foot-4 native of Cavite — the tallest Filipina cager in the collegiate scene — put stock in her promise. She proved to be a tower of power for the Lady Tamaraws, leading her Alma Mater to the semifinals and eventually, quenching a four-year Finals appearance drought in the process.

Tiebreaker Times Despite somber exit, Clare Castro glad to have kept promise to FEU Basketball FEU News UAAP  UAAP Season 82 Women's Basketball UAAP Season 82 FEU Women's Basketball Clare Castro

A year later, Castro remained true to her word, steering the green-and-gold to a Final Four berth in Season 82. She even had a chance to give the Lady Tams another crack at the title on Saturday after helping her team discard University of Santo Tomas’ twice-to-beat incentive last Wednesday.

But FEU came out of the all-important, do-or-die game without the usual grit that got them to the big dance a year ago.

“‘Yung laro namin kanina, parang hindi kami ‘yun eh. Hindi ‘yun ‘yung laro ng team namin,” Castro lamented.

The Lady Tamaraws fell into a deep 21-43 mire at the half. But refusing to go down without a fight, they chipped away at the deficit and knocked within five, 65-70 in the final period.

During the spirited fightback, though, Castro could only watch her sisters-in-arms battle for their lives. In what would be her final collegiate game, the dominant center spent most of her time on the bench in one of the biggest games of the season.

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Tiebreaker Times Despite somber exit, Clare Castro glad to have kept promise to FEU Basketball FEU News UAAP  UAAP Season 82 Women's Basketball UAAP Season 82 FEU Women's Basketball Clare Castro

The reason? Foul trouble.

“Sobrang nagsisisi ako na ‘yung mga fouls ko. Siyempre kung hindi ako nagkaroon ng foul trouble, malamang nakatulong ako sa loob kahit papaano,” rued the member of the All-UAAP Season 81 and 82 teams, who was limited to just nine points in the contest.

“Sobrang sakit kasi siyempre lahat ng pagod tsaka ng sacrifices namin, bigla na lang nawala.”

In the end, UST pounced on a struggling Castro, holding on to its lead and advancing to the Finals.

Despite a heartbreaking end to her stellar collegiate career, Castro could only smile as she looks back at her journey with FEU.

“‘Yung mga experience ko [ngayong season], may mga ups and downs, pero madadala ko siya pag-graduate ko. Merong mga frustrations, ‘yun sobrang hirap ng mga nangyari this season kasi ang dami talagang problemang dumating. Pero thankful na din ako na umabot kami ng Final Four. Kahit ang dami naming problema, umabot pa rin kami dito,” bared Castro, who bids FEU farewell together with Valerie Mamaril, Fatima Quiapo, Choy Bahuyan, Lai Adriano, Judy Abat, and Jane Payadon.

“FEU ang dahilan kung bakit ako nasa national team. Sila ang nagbigay sa akin ng knowledge sa basketball at ang nagturo sa akin ng mga bagay bagay para mag improve ako.”

There is no question that fans will remember Castro as one of the most dominant players to ever grace the collegiate league. But for the FEU faithful, she will be recalled as someone who remained true to her word.

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