The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tiger’s excruciating Finals defeat against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws may have put a frown on Ed Daquioag’s face, but he still had many reasons to smile despite the tough pill to swallow.
A transferee from the Rizal Technological University, the Ilokano made waves during the 75th season of the UAAP against the Ateneo de Manila University. In his coming out party, Daquioag drove past his defender from the baseline and was about to go for an easy lay-in. However, Daquioag just kept soaring higher and higher for a one-handed jam that drove the UST faithful in attendance to a frenzy.
Having played as a fire-starter of the bench for most of his UAAP career with the Growling Tigers, head coach Bong Dela Cruz finally gave the graduating Daquioag the chance to be one of the team’s go-to guys. In his swan song for the Tigers, Daquioag, who was also awarded as this season’s Most Improved Player, posted norms of 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. This breakout season increased his collegiate averages to 8.8 markers per outing on a high 40.2% clip.
“Siyempre malaki siya. Malaki ‘yung naging role ko sa team so siyempre credit ko iyon kay Coach Bong [Dela Cruz],” Daquioag shared. “Kung baga iyong tiwala niya sa akin, ni-ready niya ako summer pa lang and then ‘yung mga preseason namin na games ni-ready ko rin ang sarili ko.”
Furthermore, Daquioag reaped plenty of benefits from his increase role. Stats aside, Daquioag had grasped the finer points of crucial instances such as end-game situations, and he had also strengthened his mental toughness in the process.
“Best thing [I’ve learned]? Siguro ‘yung mental toughness like sa mga last minute of the game lalo na ako ‘yung pinapahawak ng bola pag ubos na ang oras,” Daquioag added. “Siguro iyon ang [most important] kong natutunan.”
Now, with Daquioag moving to a new path for his basketball career, he hopes that the next set of Growling Tigers will show the grit and never-give-up attitude that they were always known for. As UST’s mantra says, “no heart, no chance.”
“Siguro [dapat retain nila] ‘yung never give up [attitude] kasi natalo nanaman,” Daquioag ended. “Siyempre ‘yung pride sa school namin, dapat iyon ang ipaglaban nila tuwing maglalaro sila.”
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