With the fate of University of Santo Tomas sealed on Wednesday evening, Renzo Subido held his head high and sang his alma mater’s hymn for one last time, thumping his chest with his clenched right fist in front of a sea of gold.
And as he made his way inside the Growling Tigers’ dugout alongside his brothers-in-arms, Subido’s emotions were palpable. He wore a smile but had tears in his eyes, with the look of a man who has experienced it all.
It’s easy to understand his reaction to their Game Two heartbreak at the hands of the historic Ateneo Blue Eagles. Just like any other competitor who gave it their all but lost in the biggest stage of the tournament, it was not the ending he hoped for his collegiate career.
“I’m really grateful for this journey until the finals, although we fell short,” Subido bared. “For me, this is the best season I’ve ever had. I learned a lot from the experiences this season.
“I’m really grateful but at the same time, we fell short. It’s really painful for me, ending first runner-up in my senior year.”
Still, Subido gave the Thomasians something to believe in. He gave UST his heart.
“[Ang] Mami-miss ko — the crowd.
“‘Yung cheer nila ng ‘Go USTe’, that would be the most memorable for me. Hindi ko makakalimutan ‘yun,” Subido confessed.
It is almost cruel not to delve into Subido’s humble beginnings before his collegiate career reached the highest of highs.
Back in Subido’s budding years in the old-age tournament, the Growling Tigers were a force to be reckoned with. Their appearance in the Season 78 championship series was a testament to that.
That stretch, though, saw Subido relegated to a mere spectator. He spent months away from the playing field because of an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Still, he persevered and fought his own battles.
Subido’s vehement pursuit of redemption paid off after a successful recovery. But while he was working to return to UST’s fold, the Growling Tigers were trudging through Season 79 with a forgettable 3-11 campaign.
Subido then made a decision in Season 80.He sacrificed his time with UST, taking his talents to the PBA D-League in hopes of lifting his game to a whole new level. Consequently, UST endured another year of futility.
But when Subido came back from his sabbatical, the Growling Tigers stood primed for an upswing. With the integration of the cunning Aldin Ayo and his mayhem system, as well as the emergence of CJ Cansino and other promising cagers in Season 81, UST saw a glimmer of hope.
And in Season 82, Subido’s collegiate career hit a crescendo.
The UST senior was a man on a mission, steering the Growling Tigers into the Final Four. From there, he commanded the spotlight and showed UST the way in three successive sudden-death stepladder matches against Far Eastern University and the twice-to-beat University of the Philippines.
During those frantic episodes of his swan song, Subido left it all on the court. And who would dare forget his career-defining moment?
In the waning seconds of a cardiac do-or-die game, the relatively diminutive cager showcased the biggest of heart. He hoisted a triple that razed the star-studded UP Fighting Maroons down to the ground, immortalizing himself in the hearts of the Thomasians.
“I just want to be remembered as a person who’s hardworking, who gave everything for UST because that’s what they really deserve.”
Now with his collegiate stint in his rearview mirror, Subido affirmed that his time with UST has molded him into what he is today.
“Just like what coach Aldin keeps on telling us, we have to be grateful for this opportunity kasi we learned a lot,” he admitted. “Especially me, I learned a lot.
“It made me a better person and a better basketball player.”