MANILA – Rookie big man Carl Tamayo played like a veteran for University of the Philippines in the Fighting Maroons’ monumental comeback against the De La Salle Green Archers in their do-or-die semifinal match Friday.
Down by 14 with only four minutes left to play, the Fighting Maroons found a hero in Tamayo as he dropped 12 of his 19 points in his team’s 22-4 windup to win, 78-74.
It was Tamayo who tied the game for the first time at 73-all before his 3-point play gave the UP a 76-74 lead with 21.5 seconds left.
The Fighting Maroons thus arranged a finals clash with the defending champion Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles in the UAAP Season 84.
According to the rookie, he learned at a young age from coach Goldwin Monteverde not to quit regardless of the situation inside the court.
“Mula bata ako hawak ako ni coach Gold. Never kami tinuruan bumigay. Alam namin nahihirapan kami pero alam ko sa loob ko na simula bata ako walang bibitaw hanggang dulo lalo na sa ganitong klaseng sitwasyon,” he said.
“Siguro dahil du’n sa hinubog sa amin ni coach Gold simula bata kami lalabas at lalabas lalo na tuwing gantong laro, tsaka para sa UP community, sa pamilya ko.”
With his team’s back against the wall, Tamayo said he was never discouraged in the game, drawing strength from his teammates.
“Alam ko sa loob ko na kaya pa namin panalunin kahit na down 14 kami nu’ng last four minutes. Nakikita ko sa kanila na di sila bumibigay … ’Yun ang nagbigay lakas sa akin na gawin ko lahat ng kaya ko para makuha ko itong panalo na ito,” Tamayo continued.
Asked about the sequence that led to the 3-point play, Tamayo said it was designed for him.
“Kinuha ko ’yung responsibilidad na ’yun, ma-shoot ko man o ma-mintis buong-buo loob ko nu’ng part na ’yun. Talagang wala na eh lamang sila isa, character na lang talaga ’yung huli,” Tamayo said.
The Fighting Maroons will face the Blue Eagles in Game 1, on May 8, Sunday, at 6 p.m.
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