MANILA, Philippines—Rey Suerte made the most of his lone campaign in the UAAP as he introduced himself to a wider audience in Season 82.
Suerte was already well-established in Cebu, having won three championships in the CESAFI and two MVP awards while playing for University of the Visayas.
But he jumped at the chance to play for University of the East in Season 82, as one of several "one-and-done" players suiting up this year. Suerte was quick to prove that he belonged in the UAAP, memorably scoring 31 points and draining the game-winner in a thrilling 89-88 win over La Salle in the first round.
He ended his brief UAAP career on a winning note, lifting the Red Warriors to a 79-77 triumph over National University on Wednesday afternoon. Afterward, Suerte said it was a bittersweet experience for him, but one that he will treasure nevertheless.
"Sad to say that was our last game sa panahon na college pa kami," said Suerte. "'Yung pagsasama namin sa maikling panahon, in-embrace namin 'yung moment kasi bihira na kami magsasama-sama sa susunod pang taon."
Suerte believes that while UE failed to reach its goal of making the Final 4, his stint in the UAAP was still successful.
"Magandang bagay siya para sa akin kasi, napakita ko yung talento ko, talento ko dito. Hindi lang doon sa Cebu, pati rin dito," he said.
"Hindi namin (nakuha) 'yung goal namin, pero thankful pa rin. Thankful pa rin."
Suerte averaged 17.57 points and 6.79 rebounds per game in Season 82, showcasing his scoring and playmaking abilities for the Red Warriors all throughout. He also displayed his poise in crunch time, serving as UE's No. 1 option down the stretch.
In the Red Warriors' final game, he flashed his all-around skills by tallying 28 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. He also gave UE the lead for good with a layup with just 20 seconds left.
"Grabe ang competition dito, sobrang hirap talaga," said Suerte, who has also played in the PBA D-League for Che'Lu Bar&Grill.
"Pero na-amaze ako sa sarili ko kasi kaya ko palang makipag-sabayan. Yun nga, thankful ako. Siguro, si Lord na bahala sa akin in the future," he added.
Suerte now intends to try his luck in the PBA, but he is hopeful that he can serve as an example to other players in the Visayas and Mindanao who want to test themselves in Metro Manila.
"Kayang-kaya nila," said Suerte. "Kami naman mga Bisaya, mga players na galing from Visayas or somewhere in Mindanao, hindi yan magpapatalo. Hindi yan magpapatalo talaga. Warrior talaga yan, mga warrior."
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