MANILA, Philippines—Robert Bolick was fired up, and with good reason. The San Beda floor general had just scored eight unanswered points, including a crafty lay-up, to put the Red Lions ahead, 91-82, over the Lyceum Pirates with just 35 seconds to go in Game 1.
The Red Lions had not yet beaten the Pirates in NCAA Season 93, and they were about to do so in the grandest stage – the finals. Thus, Bolick's reaction was understandable: he faced the San Beda crowd at the Big Dome, and proceeded to yell and pound his chest.
His coach, Boyet Fernandez, was having none of it. He ran from the San Beda bench, grabbed Bolick from behind, and repeatedly told him to calm down while leading his star guard back to their bench.
"It's not yet finished," Fernandez said after the game, when asked why he stopped Bolick from celebrating. "We were up by nine, and we enjoyed it. Then, five straight points for them."
Indeed, the Pirates scored five points in what seemed like a blink of an eye. San Beda's comfortable nine-point advantage was down to just four with still 15 seconds left, and the Pirates were breathing down their necks. Fortunately for San Beda, they managed to pull the win through: Bolick knocked down a free throw, and Davon Potts added two more to ice the victory.
"Don't celebrate until the final buzzer sounds," said Fernandez after their 94-87 win that put them on the brink of a second consecutive NCAA title. "Until we've won the game, we don't celebrate."
Bolick, for his part, understood why his coach held him back. He explained that the reason he was shouting and yelling was simple: he needed to energize himself, as he was exhausted after nearly 35 minutes of battling against the Pirates.
"Pagod lang talaga ako," he admitted. "Noong sumisigaw ako, pagod lang talaga ako. Naghahanap ako ng motivation. Hindi na pwedeng bumigay."
"Sabi ko sa sarili ko, I have to find ways to be motivated," he added. "I just want to feel the crowd. We've lost two times to that team, and… iniisip ko, ito na ba 'yun? Twenty seconds na lang. Sumisigaw na lang ako kasi pagod na pagod na talaga ako."
"I gave everything I had for the team."
Bolick finished the game with 24 points on top of four rebounds and two assists. He scored 11 points in the final quarter, eight of which came in that crucial stretch that broke an 80-all deadlock and turned it into a 91-82 San Beda lead.
He played 35 minutes, but will have the benefit of nearly a week's rest, as Game 2 is not until Thursday, November 16.
Bolick is sure that he and his team will be tested once again by the Lyceum Pirates, a team that went 18-0 in the elimination round before losing to them in Game 1 of the finals.
"I'm pretty sure na in Game 2, mas grabe pa sila," Bolick predicted.
"We'll be ready for them," he added. "Galing ng depensa nila (ngayon), so paano pa kaya sa Game 2. We have to double our effort."
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