October 23, 2017, 3:51 pm
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Unheralded UP, La Salle players deliver big time

TWO unheralded players had big games last Wednesday in the 80th UAAP basketball tournament that propelled their teams to big wins.

University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol tinkered with his roster and tapped reserve swingman Felix Jaboneta a surprise starter.

Perasol’s gamble paid big dividends for the Fighting Maroons, who outlasted University of Santo Tomas 71-79, while defending champion La Salle has likely found another possible weapon in sweet-shooting guard Jollo Go.

Making the most out of his first start in his three-year collegiate career, the 6-foot-Jaboneta provided the spark UP badly needed. He fired a team-best 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from deep in just 18 minutes on top of three rebounds, one assist, and four steals as the Maroons arrested a three-game losing skid.

“Sobrang thankful ko lang kay coach na binigyan ako ng chance. This is my first time na nag-start sa UAAP career ko, so hindi ko binigo si coach, binigay ko ‘yung best ko,” Jaboneta said.

A former standout from Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, Jaboneta pointed to UP’s backcourt of Paul Desiderio and Jun Manzo as the players who motivated him to show that he has what it takes.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa dalawang roomate ko sa dorm, sila parati ang nagpu-push sa akin na ibigay ‘yung best ko at ipakita kung ano ang meron ako,” Jaboneta said.

Perasol is hoping Jaboneta will continue to prove his real worth to help the Fighting Maroons reach the Final Four for the first time in 20 years.

“I hope so (magtuloy-tuloy) kasi ang importante naman sa amin is ‘yung depth ng bench na wala pa kami. Even if they would want to, walang experience,” Perasol said.

“Kita mo si JanJan, he stepped up, but ‘yung experience namin sa mga endgames, ‘yung talagang totodo, kapos pa. Maganda in this game, at least naka-experience na sila na kaya pala nila.”

Go, a third-year player, wound up with 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc to go with three dimes.

The Green Archers dodged the upset axe wielded by hard-fighting Far Eastern University 75-73 also last Wednesday and made up for their sorry 75-76 loss to rival Ateneo last Sunday.

The lefty Go, who suited up for Hope Christian High School, gave credit to La Salle’s coaching staff and his teammates for the trust that he repaid with a solid outing.

“Thankful lang ako sa mga teammates and coaches ko. Grabe ang confidence na binibigay nila,” Go said.

“Every time sinasabihan nila ako na be confident lang, stick lang to the system, stick lang ako sa role ko. Binibigay ko lang ‘yung best ko.”

The 5-foot-10 Go buried a booming three-pointer and a jumper at the 3:23 mark of the fourth quarter that gave the Archers a 72-65 lead.

The Tams staged a spirited fightback, only to fall short in the end.

La Salle assistant coach Miggy Solitaria was not surprised with Go’s breakout performance, saying his role is to be the Archers’ designated three-point shooter.

“Jollo, 4-of-5 shooting from three, I think that’s his role with the team aside from defending well, ayan ang ultimate role niya sa team,” he said. “Kapag sinabing Jollo Go, he has to make his three-point shots.” – Michael Jugado
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