When Rey Suerte took a peek at the statistics sheet, all he could muster was:
It was a playful pun on his name, but the statement spoke volumes about the frustration of the former CESAFI star. The University of the East Red Warriors had just suffered their fourth loss of the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, a 56-62 outcome at the hands of the UP Fighting Maroons.
In 35:19 minutes of action, Suerte only mustered four points from two-out-of-15 shooting from the field. His numbers were a far cry from his average 22.75 points per game before this afternoon’s contest. Still, safe to say State U’s exceptional focus on him was a thorn in his side all game.
“Siyempre ano, expected ko na yun eh, na dedepensahan nila ako. Yun nga, hinaluan pa ng konting malas. Tsaka nahirapan din ako mag-adjust sa ring kasi sobrang tigas talaga,” said the 23-year-old.
With all eyes on him, Suerte tried to influence the game in other ways, such as doing the intangibles. However, it all went to naught as Bo Perasol’s men always found a way to defend their lead and prevent any UE comeback.
“Oo, wala na ako nung second half. Medyo limitado na. Depensa na lang, assist, pasa, nag-role player na lang. Ako na nag-adjust,” said the University of Visayas alumnus, who is a two-time CESAFI MVP.
If there is one thing the past few games have shown, though, it is that UE tends to rely on their one-two punch of Alex Diakhite and Suerte to lead them to victory. With the latter having a bad day at the office, the duo’s teammates failed to rise to the challenge. Only Nick Abanto flirted with a double-digit output with nine markers.
“Kailangan talaga na we need to step up talaga every game. Hopefully, mga kasama ko mag-step up na kaming lahat,” he said.
Down in a 1-4 hole, the Red Warriors need Suerte to do what he does best if they want to get back to winning ways. But with the likes of the Ateneo Blue Eagles and NU Bulldogs coming up, the one-and-done student-athlete knows that he must find a way to be effective despite shooting bricks. How so? By bringing his comrades into the game more.
“Yun nga, pinapraktis ko yung pag dino-double ako, pasa, look for open guys. Kailangan talaga magtiwala sa kasama.”