MANILA, Philippines – Mark Nonoy knew that he was going down, but he made sure he’d go down swinging.
In the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ 91-77 annihilation of the UST Growling Tigers in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball finals on Saturday, November 16, the newly crowned Rookie of the Year erupted for a career-high 26 points off the bench on a 7-of-14 shooting from three.
However, this herculean effort looked diminutive against the all-around barrage delivered by the undefeated two-time defending champions, led by Thirdy Ravena’s season-best 32-marker eruption on a 14-of-18 clip.
As a result, the 19-year-old speed freak was reduced to tears after the tough loss and did not hold back during the singing of the UST hymn.
“Siyempre masakit kasi eto na yung goal namin pero na-short kami. Babawi kami sa Game 2,” a dejected Nonoy said after the game. “Siguro gawin lang namin yung best namin. Tulungan lang kami.”
(Of course it hurts because we fell short. We’ll get back on Game 2. We’ll just do our best and help out one another.)
The pride of Negros Occidental has been on a tear during UST’s magical playoff run to the finals, averaging 15 points, 4.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds on an improved 37% clip and 34% from downtown.
This is a noticeable leap from his numbers in the elimination round, where he posted norms of 10 markers, 3.9 boards and 2.3 dimes on a paltry 27% shooting and 26% from distance.
When asked about his most recent eruption, Nonoy shared that he just needed to provide UST with a much-needed spark as has always been asked from him.
“Ginawa ko lang lahat kasi nahirapan yung first group namin so kailangan naming mag-step up,” he said. “[Bahala na] kay coach Aldin [Ayo] sa kung anong ia-adjust niya para sa ikabubuti ng team namin for Game 2.”
(I just did what I can because our first group was struggling. So we needed to step up. It’s up to coach Aldin on how he’ll adjust for the good of the team for Game 2.)
Nonoy has a chance to build on this outburst and help tie up the series on Wednesday, November 20, the same day he will formally receive his Rookie of the Year award. – Rappler.com