It was Carl Tamayo's choice to suit up or not for the University of the Philippines (UP) right after his stint with Gilas Pilipinas.
The Fighting Maroons' coaching staff - led by Goldwin Monteverde, who developed the prized Cebuano - understood that their thoroughbred had just ran several races all strung together.
Tamayo, though, insisted his legs were still all good.
"Actually, 'yung coaching staff, sabi nila, I have the option of taking a break. Pero ako, sabi ko, gusto ko pa matuto sa laro," he said after powering the Fighting Maroons to a third win in as many games in the 2022 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup last Wednesday.
"Eto na 'yung inaantay ko e, 'yung lagari sa laro para matuto ako. Bata pa naman ako. Kaya ko pa namang tumakbo nang tumakbo."
Just three days after seeing action in the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia, the 6-foot-8 big man suited up for the Maroons in the preseason tourney.
He has been dominant, averaging an 18.5-point, 12.5-rebound double-double to go with 2.0 assists in 28 minutes.
His latest outing was a 20-marker, 4-board, and 2-dime effort against the undersized University of the East, where he already had 15 points at halftime, while all the Red Warriors had 23 in total.
"Ginawa ko lang 'yung dapat gagawin para sa team. Just trying to set the set the standard," he said.
"Nagkataon lang na ako 'yung nakaka-shoot at sadyang nahahanap ako ng teammates ko kaya nakuha ko 'yung rhythm ko."
For the 21-year-old, playing doesn't stop, because learning doesn't stop. As always, he's determined to be better -- and in the context of the collegiate wars, that means improving on last season when he won Rookie of the Year, and helped claim Diliman's first championship since 1986.
"Na-eexcite kasi ako tuwing may game. 'Yung learnings kasi, 'di natitigil so instead na isipin ko 'yung pagod, 'yung opportunity to learn ang naiisip ko," he said. "Bata pa naman ako para isipin 'yung pagod."
So excited has he been that it looks like he hasn't had time for a haircut. Tamayo sported a buzz cut in his rookie year in the UAAP Seniors, and a clean trim in his time for both the national team and Nazareth School of National University in the UAAP Juniors.
Still, the unkempt hair hasn't kept him from continuing to practice what Monteverde has always preached.
"Sa amin, we make sure na no matter the game, no matter the tournament, we have to play our best," the coached said.
"Sa part namin, 'di namin iniisip kung paano kami haharapin ng mga kalaban. Nasa isip namin, paano kami maglalaro, paano kami magre-respond sa kanila," echoed Tamayo.
"'Di mahalaga sa amin kung didiin ba sila o hindi, basta 'yung standard namin, 'yun ang gagawin namin."