Before their game against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws commenced, the onus was on the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers to bounce back after their demoralizing loss at the hands of the Adamson Soaring Falcons.
The Growling Tigers needed to get back on track, as another loss would provoke doubts in the team. A third defeat would also have sent UST down the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament standings — a big obstacle to their dream of returning to the post-season considering the competitiveness of the league.
Up stepped Sherwin Concepcion, then, to set things right in the world of the Thomasian community.
The 22-year-old sank 12 points — all from beyond the arc — to catapult the Growling Tigers to an 82-74 victory over FEU at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City. His output was more impressive since it came off 50 percent shooting, with three treys in the second half.
“Ayun, masaya kasi first time nakatulong sa team. Yun naman laging pinagdadasal ko, na makatulong ako sa team at [na] yung tiwala sa’kin ni Coach Aldin ‘di mawala. Yung pagkatalo namin against Adamson masakit sa’min yun kasi panalo na sa’min, nawala pa sa’min,” said Concepcion.
“Yung first half kasi parang lutang ako at wala sa focus. Pagka-start ng second half, sabi ko dapat makatulong ako sa team.”
This type of performance has been a long time coming the Tarlac native. He has had to wait two years due to academic issues for this breakout game in the UAAP. Now, all he can say is that he is finally fulfilling his life-long ambition.
“Dati kasi, nung nasa high school ako sa Mapua, dream kong makapaglaro ng UAAP pag-college ko.
“Ginawa ko yung best ko para makapaglaro ako sa UAAP,” said Concepcion.
Six games into the season, each assignment has proven challenging in different ways for the 6-foot-2 swingman, who personally admitted that he needs to improve on his defense to become a better player. Amidst a tighter schedule to give way to the upcoming South East Asian Games, all he wants is for his team to overcome adversity to reach their targets.
“Magtatiyaga lang kami kasi sinimulan na namin. Dapat buo kami pagdating sa game at sabi ni Coach Aldin sa’min, dapat wala nang mai-injure sa’min. Kahit mahirap, pagtatiyagaan namin,” said Concepcion.
All that’s left for UST in the first round is an intriguing match-up against the DLSU Green Archers. While La Salle have had a slow start to their campaign, the former Mapua High School standouts and his teammates know that they cannot underestimate their opponents.
“Kumpiyansa pa at depensa para matapatan yung mga big man ng La Salle. Kasi nung FilOil, tambak din kami nun eh. Kaya gusto naming bumawi sa kanila.”