ANTIPOLO CITY, Rizal – UAAP teams finally understood that Rey Suerte can score, and score at will.
After 5 games, it was the UP Fighting Maroons’ defensive game plan that worked on the league-leading scorer as they held Suerte to just 4 points on a 2-of-15 shooting in a game-high 35-minute performance.
This clampdown turned out crucial as UP ran out of firepower in the second half of a 62-56 escape act in the men’s basketball tournament on Saturday, September 21.
After the game, Suerte could only shake his head and mutter “Rey Malas” (Unlucky Rey) as he checked out his numbers on the statsheet. Prior to his ice-cold outing, the one-and-done guard led the league with a 22.75 points per game average.
“Siyempre ano, expected ko na yun eh, na dedepensahan nila ako,” he said. “Yun nga, hinaluan pa ng konting malas. Tsaka nahirapan din ako mag-adjust sa ring kasi sobrang tigas talaga.”
(Of course, I already expected that they’d defend me. Then a stroke of bad luck got in the mix. I also found it difficult to adjust to the ring because it was so hard.)
Prior to taking his talents to the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, Suerte lit up the Mall of Asia Arena for season-high 31 points in UE’s thrilling 89-88 breakthrough win over La Salle.
Obviously, UP took notice and placed a bigger target on the former two-time CESAFI MVP, which paid dividends in the end. On a positive note, Suerte took this as a sign of respect for his game.
“Grabe. Nakaka-overwhelm kasi talagang pinaghandaan nila ako,” he said. “Alam na nila ang kaya kong gawin.”
(It’s overwhelming for me because they really prepared for me. They already know what I can do.)
However, Suerte also noted that he should already help his teammates step up given that he’s now a marked man across the league. Team consultant Lawrence Chongson already noted in a previous loss that his team is already “predictable” and over-reliant on their team stars.
“Kailangan talaga na we need to step up every game,” said Suerte. “Hopefully, mga kasama ko mag-step up na kaming lahat. Yun nga, pinapraktis ko yung pag dino-double ako, pasa, look for open guys. Kailangan talaga magtiwala sa kasama.”
(We really need to step up every game. Hopefully, I step up with my teammates. I’m now practicing my passing off the double team to look for open guys. I really need to trust my teammates.)
Suerte and UE will now need to fast-track their adjustments as they face the two-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles on Wednesday, September 25, at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com
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