MANILA, Philippines -- A pair of missed three-pointers did not dent Jerom Lastimosa's confidence as the Adamson University star showed no hesitation in taking -- and making -- the final shot of the game for the Soaring Falcons.
Lastimosa's three-pointer with 5.5 seconds left gave them a 64-63 triumph over National University on Saturday, keeping them in the hunt for a place in the UAAP Season 85 Final 4.
"Alam ko na 'yung dalawang tira ko is hindi siya pumasok, but I never give up sa last shot," said Lastimosa, who endured a poor shooting performance before bailing out the Soaring Falcons in the end game.
The point guard made just two of his eight attempts from the field for seven points to go along with five rebounds in a 28-minute stint for Adamson. Two of his misses came in the final 38.5 seconds, when Lastimosa twice misfired from beyond the arc to allow National U to stay ahead.
But the Bulldogs couldn't close out the game, as Steve Nash Enriquez made only one of two free throws with 18.6 seconds to go to give the Falcons one more chance. This time, Lastimosa made sure that he would cash in on the opportunity.
"I think deserve ko naman mangyari 'yun kasi pina-practice ko talaga every day. Hindi lang every day, every morning lunch, dinner," Lastimosa said of his game-winner.
Lastimosa's game-winner came without the benefit of a timeout from Adamson coach Nash Racela, who stressed that he had full trust in his players -- particularly his star point guard.
"We wanted to call a timeout, if they made that second free throw. We had really no choice. We had two timeouts, kailangan namin gamitin talaga, to put direction. But, yeah, they missed it, which actually was a good thing, a better thing for us, because 'yung defense ng NU wasn't prepared for whatever these two guys planned," said Racela, referring to Lastimosa and Lenda Douanga.
The pair perfectly ran a play with Douanga handing off the ball to Lastimosa to free up the guard for the go-ahead three-pointer.
"There was no instruction from my end, wala naman. Sila lang 'yung dumiskarte," Racela said. "Ang sabi ko lang [to Jerom], bahala ka na. Sa'yo na. 'Yun ang sabi ko, 'no, sa'yo na."
Lastimosa, for his part, was determined not to let down his coach who has consistently trusted him in crunch time situations even when he struggles during games.
"Sobrang saya ko kasi sa mga ganyang sitwasyon, talagang sa akin binibigay ni coach 'yung tiwala niya, sa mga crucial na sitwasyon. So ako naman, hindi ko naman sasayangin 'yang mga ganyang opportunities," he said.
"So, i-grab ko talaga, and kailangan talagang panindigan 'yun."
Their win over National U was crucial, as Adamson improved to 7-6 and stayed in the running for the fourth and final spot in the UAAP Final 4. The Soaring Falcons are still in a must-win situation in their final game next Wednesday against Ateneo de Manila University, however.
"One game at a time," Lastimosa said. "And one more na lang, one more push just to make it to the Final 4."
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.