MANILA, Philippines – Jamie Malonzo's lone season in the UAAP will end a lot quicker than he wanted to.
This, as the De La Salle University Green Archers were booted out of the Finals 4 race in Season 82 on Sunday, following a painful 71-68 defeat to University of the Philippines. La Salle had to win their last two assignments just to force a playoff, but were outplayed by UP down the stretch of their second-round encounter.
Malonzo, who already played for Portland State University before going to La Salle, had a team-high 17 points, and hit some crucial shots that allowed them to recover from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
He also had 11 rebounds, but shot only 6-of-14 as the entire team struggled from the field.
"We just didn't make our shots down the stretch," said Malonzo after the game. "It's frustrating, sorry. We just fell short."
"You know, that's a good UP team, and they're gonna find their ways to win. And we're gonna find ours also, but we just didn't end up on the right side of the stick today. Unfortunately, we just fell short," he added.
The loss dropped them to 6-7 in the men's basketball tournament, and now La Salle has no chance of catching up to University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University in the Final 4.
For Malonzo, failing to make it to the playoffs in his first and last year with La Salle was a difficult pill to swallow.
"It's very, very frustrating, actually," said Malonzo, one of La Salle's three "one-and-done" players this year.
"You know, I put a lot of it on me as a leader on the team. Whenever we come short, it hurts," he added. "I feel like I'm letting a lot of the players down."
He was especially regretful of how they could not give graduating guard Andrei Caracut another Final 4 appearance in his last season. Malonzo said the least they can do is to have a winning send-off, when they play Adamson University in their last game of the season on Wednesday.
"We're just gonna keep our heads high and be proud. I feel like La Salle and the whole La Salle community is proud of how we fought, and they're always gonna have our backs," he said.
Though they were unable to achieve their goal of reaching the Final 4, Malonzo had no regrets about playing in the UAAP. Asked how the experience was, the Fil-Am swingman called it "very, very, very, very fun."
"I wish I had more," he admitted. "This is a great experience and I wish I had more of it. But um, I'm proud, I'm proud of how it ended up. Fell short, but I mean, can't look back. It was a fun experience."
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