Far Eastern University-Diliman needed the heroics of Cabs Cabonillas to fend off a six-man University of the Philippines Integrated School squad on Wednesday.
With the game tied at 3.2 seconds remaining, the 6-foot-3 Davaoeno forward was at the right place and at the right time, knocking down a tough layup for the go-ahead basket.
The Fighting Maroons’ Hail Mary at the dying seconds of the game only hit rim as the Baby Tamaraws escaped with a 2-2 record.
“Masasabi ko lang, pasalamat lang ako sa Panginoon na nakuha namin yung panalo at kay Coach Allan (Albano),” said the Digos City Central Elementary School alumnus who had 14 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
On paper, the Baby Tamaraws, as the defending champions, should have had an easier time disposing of the Junior Fighting Maroons, who are bottom of the standings.
Albano fielded 16 players in the game while his counterpart, Paolo Mendoza, only played six players during the contest.
“The game plan was pagurin yung UPIS,” he said. “Nakita ko kasi sa stats maiksi lang yung ginagamit nilang players. Sabi ko baka mapagod sila. Bandang dulo lumayo na kami.
“First half dikit pero hindi nangyari ng gameplan kaya saludo ako sa UP. Ganda ng nilaro nila. Muntik nga pa rin kami matalo kung derecho yung shoot. Sa back rim lang tumama. Kaya ginamit ko lahat. Yan yung game plan — pagurin sila. Well, mukhang hindi naman nangyari. Hindi naman sila napagot,” he furthered.
“Congratulations pa rin sa mga boys. Ginawa pa rin nila yung tama para manalo.”
Ultimately, Cabonillas and the rest of the Baby Tamaraws have their work cut out for them if they want to win back-to-back championships this season. They need to develop a winning mentality to put teams away quicker.
For the 17-year-old, Grade 10 big man, this is simply part of the process and they will work doubly harder to improve for their next games.
“Masasabi ko lang na gawin lang namin lahat. Kailangan lang namin mag-execute nang maayos para magawa namin yung pinapagawa ng mga coaches,” he said.