With the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals already eliminated from Final Four contention with two weeks to go in the elimination round of the NCAA Seniors Basketball Tournament, Jerome Garcia only wanted one thing: to win his final games at San Marcelino.
But sport has a cruel way of sending off its sons. In this case, Garcia was handed a heartbreaking 55-57 loss by Jed Mendoza and the JRU Heavy Bombers.
“Malungkot na masaya kasi actually last week pa ako malungkot talaga eh. Yung mga remaining weeks ko, almost before na pumunta ako dito sa last game, sabi ko ayaw ko pa dumating ang four o’clock kasi ayaw ko pa mag-start yung laro,” he reflected.
“Tapos nun dumating na yung oras ng laro, nakabihis na ako, unti unti na ako nalulungkot, bumibigat pakiramdam ko, parang ayaw ko matapos first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, tapos pagdating ng fourth quarter, lamang na kami, nakuhaan pa kami ng lamang,” he confessed.
“Pero thankful pa rin ako kasi na-exprience ko yung akala ko ‘di ko mae-experience.”
For his part, Garcia had seven markers to close out his collegiate career with norms of 13.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
The 24-year-old will forever be grateful to Adamson University and the EAC Generals, especially Mike Fermin and Ariel Sison.
Though he had played in Adamson back in 2013, Garcia only logged in a total of four minutes under coach Leo Austria. But in 2015, then-Soaring Falcons head coach Mike Fermin gave him an opportunity he would not waste.
However, with Fermin being sent down to coach the Baby Falcons, Garcia made the tough decision to cross San Marcelino and join the Generals. It was there that he blossomed under the tutelage of Sison, a former school dean turned into head coach.
For some, having new and young coaches is a burden. But for Garcia, he has grown and matured together with his coaches – an experience that he will forever relish.
“Siyempre thankful pa rin ako sa kanila na kahit bago sila, ako pa rin yung unang tumatak sa isip nila. ‘Di ko naman akala na ganun na pala yung tingin nila sa laro ko. Parang sobrang saya ko kung ‘di naman talaga sa kanila, wala ako dito,” he expressed.
“‘Di ko na-experience yung na experience ko.”
Garcia will now move on to the pros with no regrets. Moreover, the once young free spirit will enter the next stage of his life as a mature man.
“Nung una meron pero nung na welcome na ako sa EAC, parang iba na eh. Napamahal na ako sa kanila kasi ayun nga tulad nung sabi ko kanina, dumating na yung time na ako na yung beterano,” he shared. “Ako na yung naghahandle ng team, ako na nag-umpisa ng kulitan at kalokan sa team namin.
“Wala akong regret.”