The Jose Rizal University faithful have been spoiled with outstanding guards. From Nate Matute and Philip Paniamogan to Paolo Pontejos and Teytey Teodoro, these guards have led the Heavy Bombers to multiple Final Four appearances.
That is why when JRU head coach Vergel Meneses cut Teodoro during the off-season, a lot of pressure fell on the shoulders of 6-foot guard Jed Mendoza.
However, even with his 15.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game average, the NCAA Season 93 Seniors Basketball Most Improved Player could not tow the Heavy Bombers to the win column.
Well, the Heavy Bombers were handed a win by the San Sebastian Golden Stags after RK Ilagan was caught playing in a “ligang labas” game. But JRU has yet to have a win that they could call their own.
Come Friday afternoon, Mendoza and the Heavy Bombers played short-handed. Still, it did not deter them from playing their A-game against the EAC Generals.
With the third-year Heavy Bomber leading the way with 18 points, five assists, five steals, and four rebounds, JRU was able to eke out a 57-55 win — a win they could call their own.
As the final buzzer sounded, Mendoza, who has faced major scrutiny from the Rizalians, dropped to the floor to soak in the moment.
“Parang nabawasan ng tinik sa dibdib talaga.
“Ngayon kasi pag sinabi sa JRU, ako yung nagrerepresent eh, as a captain ball and as a superstar, parang pag binabatikos yung team, ako kaagad e, ako yung front,” expressed Mendoza.
“Hindi, second ka lang sa akin,” quipped Meneses.
“Sorry, si coach pala, si coach then ako,” furthered the 22-year-old native of Bataan.
“Siyempre, sobrang saya. Hype talaga ng pakiramdam ko. Alam ni lord, alam ng team na gusto ko manalo. Every game naman binibigay ko consistency ko, binibigay ko lahat ng nasa puso ko. Hindi na para sa akin to, para kay Lord na ‘to at para sa team, para masuklian ko yung binibigay nila coach,” he expressed.
“Nahihiya na rin kami sa JRU community na todo suporta sila. Ayoko na sila biguin. Mabibigo pa kami sa previous game pero ito mattreasure namin itong pagkapanalo namin. Who knows magtuloy tuloy na to.”