Though National University-Manila pretty much breezed through its first two games in the Chooks to Go NBTC National Finals, skipper Gerry Abadiano knew that the Bullpups will be tested sooner or later.
So he kept himself ready, amid the blowouts, and on Friday, Abadiano’s extra preparations were finally put to good use.
Abadiano drained the go-ahead basket with two seconds remaining on the clock to lift the Bullpups past the San Beda Red Cubs, 91-90, and move on to the NBTC Finals for the second straight year.
“Siguro iniisip ko lang, pinapractice ko to lagi. Iniisip ko lang, last shot na to, para mag championship na kami,” said the 18-year-old Abadiano.
“Pag tinira ko ‘to bahala na. Bahala na kung pumasok or hindi. Manalo or overtime,” he added.
“Nung tinira ko pumasok naman siya, sobrang saya.”
Abadiano’s game-winner capped off another solid night for him as he finished with 23 points, four steals and three assists.
The Bullpups needed all of that as they blew an early 26 point lead, and even trailed the Red Cubs late in the game.
Luckily for them, Abadiano knew already what to do in clutch moments as he blew past Kai Oliva, gave him a bit of a bump and stepped back for the match winner.
“Lagi, lagi (pinapractice). Sa training. Kumbaga pag wala ako magawa or free time ko sa training, dribble pull up ganun, pasa tas dribble pull up up kumbaga nakasananay ko na eh,” recalled the 5-foot-11 guard.
“Kumbaga nakasanay rin ng katawan ko. Dra-drive ako konting nudge tas pull up.”
As sweet as the game was for Abadiano, the soft-spoken guard knows that the job is not done as they have one more game til they call themselves national champions.
They take on La Salle Green Hills for all the marbles on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s finals.
“Last year, nakalaban din naman sila, kumbaga alam namin ang tendencies ng mga player dun, tendencies team nila. Laruin lang namin kung ano yung laro namin. Kung ano man yung maging outcome basta ang importante binigay namin yung best namin,” said Abadiano.
“Sana makuha namin yung championship na to para ma-back to back namin yung championship.”