ANTIPOLO — Encho Serrano tried to be the hero during La Salle’s do-or-die game against University of the Philippines last Sunday.
With 19 seconds left and La Salle down 68-70, Aljun Melecio fumbled the ball. He was able to save it, then sent it in the direction of Encho Serrano.
The 6-foot Serrano, like the speedster that he is, blitzed down the court. Three Fighting Maroons were waiting for him towards the goal, however.
Instead of waiting and setting up the offense, Serrano tried with all his might to score over the outstretched arms of 6-foot-6 Kobe Paras. Though he was able to put a shot up, Serrano overcooked it.
“Hindi ko siya nabitawan eh, pero napa-lakas ‘yung tira ko eh,” recalled the 20-year-old.
“Hindi ko siya masyadong na-control kasi kinross ‘yung daan ko ni Ricci [Rivero], kaya ‘yun, napa-lakas ‘yung tira ko.”
La Salle lost the game by a mere three points, sending them crashing out of the Final Four picture.
That miss should not take anything from the season the sophomore has had, though.
The native of Apalit has been tearing it up for the Green Archers, averaging 9.31 points, 3.62 rebounds, and 1.85 assists per game.
And in the game, he was playing with one good leg after rolling his right ankle in the first half.
“The kid was playing on one leg. The kid has a damn near broken ankle and fights with the big guys every game,” disclosed Green Archers active consultant Jermaine Byrd. “He loves the school, he loves the community and I love him.”
“Ako, na-injure pa ako, nag-doble effort ako kasi gusto ko talaga tulungan ‘yung mga teammates ko kahit na sobrang sakit ng paa ko,” said Serrano, on the other hand.
“Pinainom nila ako after the game, ang dami kong sinuka.”
Serrano is not using the pain as an excuse for what happened. Instead, he is charging it all up to experience.
“Siyempre masakit, kasi ginawa namin ‘yung best namin para sa team namin. ‘Yun lang, siguro ‘yung para sa akin lang, hindi naman siya masakit kasi ginawa namin ‘yung best namin.”
Having coached and seen the growth in Serrano, Byrd knows that the guard will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
“He is a superstar in the making.”