MANILA, Philippines – Fans and members of the UP Fighting Maroons are collectively holding their breath as they await the status of the left knee injury that Zavier Lucero sustained in the fourth quarter of an eventual 65-55 UAAP finals Game 2 loss to Ateneo on Wednesday, December 14.
The initial outlook, however, is not looking good after cameras caught Lucero awkwardly bending his knee on a non-contact drive with around 8 minutes left to play, rendering him unable to return to the game or even walk off the court under his own power. He left the coliseum wearing a knee immobilizer.
Speaking on behalf of head coach Goldwin Monteverde, UP assistant Christian Luanzon is hoping for the best, but also bracing for the worst as Game 3 beckons on Monday, December 19.
“I’m sure you guys saw he had a hard time walking, no? Even our medical team helped him out, two guys carried him, and eventually Henry [Galinato] carried him out from the court to the dugout. I guess, that speaks a lot already,” he said after the game.
“But we’re still hoping for the best, obviously because only the professionals know. I think what’s crucial is he is assessed ASAP. So we’re just waiting.”
Prior to going down, Lucero looked very well on his way to a Finals MVP-worthy run with 6 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in 28 minutes. In UP’s Game 1 win, the graduating forward also stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 11 boards, 2 dimes, and 2 rejections in 33 minutes.
It goes without saying that Lucero is invaluable to the Maroons and their hopes of completing a back-to-back title run in the same year.
If he were to miss the do-or-die Game 3, it would mean even more responsibilities for UP’s key front court cogs like newly crowned MVP Malick Diouf, Mythical Five member Carl Tamayo, and hulking bruiser Henry Galinato. – Rappler.com