MANILA, Philippines – It's one thing to have luck in your veins, it's another to have guts in your heart.
It's a whole different story when you possess both, as epitomized by UE Red Warriors' brand new gunner Rey Suerte.
Living up to his lofty billing as a three-time champion and two-time MVP back in Cebu, Suerte did not shy away from the big stage, proving his worth for the Red Warriors en route to being hailed as the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week.
The 23-year-old exploded for a season-high 31 big points on top of 7 rebounds and 3 assists, none bigger than his back-to-back treys in the last 15.4 seconds to drag UE out of the winless column with a thrilling 89-88 breakthrough victory against the La Salle Green Archers in Season 82 on Sunday, September 15.
"One word: Suerte. Swerte lang. It was a risk we took, but big-time players just make big-time plays," said UE active consultant Lawrence Chongson on the Red Warriors' prized recruit.
(One word: Suerte. It's just luck. It was a risk we took, but big-time players just make big-time plays.)
After squandering an early 13-point lead, the Red Warriors stared at an 83-85 deficit no thanks to Encho Serrano's and-one for the Green Archers in the last 29.6 seconds before Suerte came to the rescue and took matters into his own hands.
The 6-foot-3 swingman delivered, sinking two tightly contested shots beyond the arc – the first over Andrei Caracut for an 86-85 cushion in the last 15.4 seconds, and the second over Kurt Lojera in the last 3.2 seconds for the Red Warriors' first victory in 4 games.
"Kailangan naming manalo talaga kaya nasa isip ko kanina, positive lang at bawat bitaw ko, masu-shoot talaga," Suerte said. (We just needed to win so I was just thinking positively that all my shots will go in.)
Without a doubt, luck had something to do with the career game of UE's one-and-done star, but more than that, it was his heart that was in full effect.
"I just want to keep on pushing. Gusto kong matulungan 'yung mga bata sa team namin para in the future, madala nila 'yung team na ito sa other seasons," he concluded after taking the league by storm with an average of 22.75 points.
(I just want to keep on pushing. I want to help the young guys in this team so that they can carry this team in the future seasons.)
Suerte bested UST's super rookies Soulemane Chabi Yo and Rhenz Abando, Ateneo's tower Angelo Kouame, and UP's Bright Akhuetie and Kobe Paras for the weekly citation given by the print and online media covering the collegiate beat. – Rappler.com