Mikee Reyes. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA -- The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons ended a long wait on Saturday as they won their first game in 2 years after beating Adamson University, 77-64, in the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament.
The victory ended an even longer wait for UP point guard Mikee Reyes, who last experienced a UAAP victory in 2009.
"This was my first UAAP win since 2009," said Reyes. "So it's a big thing for me. As pathetic as it sounds, masarap. Masarap manalo."
Reyes struggled in UP's first six games of the season, at one point posting a negative Player Efficiency Rating as per HumbleBola. But he was a man on a mission against the Soaring Falcons, scoring a career-high 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting to go along with 3 assists and 5 rebounsds.
"Actually, swerte na lang din siguro," Reyes said of his career game. "'Yung iba doon, chamba na lang din."
It was Reyes' best performance since a 26-point effort against De La Salle last August 2009 - an 83-78 win for UP.
"That was a whole different story," Reyes said of his game against La Salle. "(La Salle) Greenhills ako noong high school, so that was a different story. Hindi naman ako galit sa kanila, pero you know, s'yempre I wanted to prove something."
"Mas masarap 'yun, but then, this is really big," he said of their game against Adamson, "because championship game eh."
Reyes said that it was sweeter for him that his fantastic performance came in a victory, but was quick to credit his teammates as well, including forward JR Gallarza who also registered a career-high with 24 points.
"I think he (Gallarza) rubbed off his energy on all of us. So we're lucky to have him play like that today," he said.
He also commended teammates Kyles Lao and Mark Juruena for stabilizing the team when Adamson made a huge run in the final period to cut what was once a 24-point lead to only 10.
"It's sad na hindi ko sila natulungan at that stretch," Reyes said. "Actually, nag-kalat nga ako noon eh, before ako nag-cramps."
"It was good na naging composed naman, si Kyles, si Mark Juruena who was the stabilizer today," he added. "It was really a team effort. Hindi lang kaming dalawa (ni JR Gallarza)."
For the UP coaches, it also ended a long stretch where they waited for Reyes to show what he was capable of.
"We were waiting for him (Reyes) for the last five games na lumabas 'yung game niya," said assistant coach Ramil Cruz, who took over for the Maroons for suspended head coach Rey Madrid. "Napaka-swerte namin na kung kelan kami naka-match up ng kalaban, doon siya pumutok."