MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) rookie Regie Basibas seized a golden opportunity when he stepped up in the Growling Tigers' crucial game against the University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 77 tournament Wednesday.
Forward Kevin Ferrer and guard Ed Daquioag did not suit up for UST against UP due to injuries, but the Tigers got a huge lift when Basibas – an unheralded rookie who hails from Leyte – tallied a double-double of 16 points and 18 rebounds.
Basibas' career game, along with Karim Abdul's 21-point, 12-rebound effort and Aljon Mariano's 13 markers, helped UST eventually pull away from UP in the fourth quarter en route to a 77-65 victory.
The soft-spoken Basibas later told reporters that he was merely following the instructions set by UST head coach Bong dela Cruz.
"Ginawa ko lang po 'yung pinagawa ng coach sa akin, at saka sabi niya, ready lang daw ako kasi 'yung ibang players ay injured," said the 20-year-old Basibas.
He admitted that he was initially nervous when he started his 29-minute stint, but soon found his footing. Despite his nervousness, however, Basibas did not seem surprised about his performance.
"Opo (I expected this). Kasi, sa practice po ginagawa ko naman 'yung pinapagawa ng coach sa akin," he said.
Basibas played a year in Arellano before leaving and going to Pampanga, where he honed his skills in barangay leagues.
He earned praise from Dela Cruz, who commended the rookie for stepping up not only in practice but during the game itself.
"May mga injured player kami at kailangan namin ng player na mags-step up, at si Regie Boy ang nagpakita this game," said the coach.
"Athletic si Basibas eh. 'Yung basketball skills niya, mataas, at nagle-learn pa lang siya this year sa UAAP. Ang maganda niyan, nag-step up siya ngayon, at maganda 'yung laro niya," he added.
UST center Karim Abdul, who has not been shy about criticizing his teammates this season, also offered some words of praise for Basibas.
"It came very timely," Abdul said of Basibas' explosion. "Daquioag was injured, and Kevin is not there, so it's good that he stepped up, and also Aljon. Others also contributed. So it was very good."
"We're happy with Regie's performance. The coach told him that he should just keep on doing the good work, so I hope he will be able to play that well on Saturday against Ateneo," Abdul added.