All-out Ashaolu hobbles to NLEX victory
MANILA, Philippines – NLEX import Olu Ashaolu wasn't even supposed to suit up.
Hobbled by a knee injury – a partial tear in his right patellar tendon – Ashaolu incredibly willed NLEX to a 103-90 win over TNT in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup opener on Friday, August 17.
"He was in pain," said acting NLEX coach Jojo Lastimosa. "[His injury] is something that you really have to worry about because it can completely tear, so that's a problem. But you can see that he was all out tonight."
The Nigerian-Canadian import hardly looked like someone who's virtually playing on one leg as he scattered 33 points and 23 rebounds for the Road Warriors.
Lastimosa revealed NLEX had even decided to replace Ashaolu even before the conference kicked off, but the team could not find an immediate substitute.
"[O]ur last game, he actually said goodbye to the players. He said, 'Sorry it's unfair that if I stay that I won't be able to give you 100 percent so I'm okay to be replaced,'" Lastimosa narrated.
"Nagpaalam na siya (He already bid goodbye). But since there's no replacement, he said, 'I'm going to step in and do what I can.'"
Knowing the Road Warriors would most likely get overpowered by the KaTropa, Ashaolu decided to play through the pain.
For Ashaolu – who sustained the injury in a tuneup against Meralco – it was all about completing his tasks here in the Philippines.
"I'll try to keep playing as long as I can. I don't wanna stop playing but obviously I gotta take care of my knee for my future. But I'm here to do a job so we'll figure it out," he said.
As NLEX still has no replacement import, Ashaolu is bound to see action when the Road Warriors square off against NorthPort on Sunday, August 19, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo. – Rappler.com