CEBU CITY –After 15 years in the University of San Carlos school system, Nico Magat made sure to leave his mark as Warriors skipper.
Magat helped the Warriors claim their first ever Cesafi title with a 64-53 victory over the University of the Visayas Green Lancers on Tuesday.
Up seven, 56-49, Magat received a pass on the right corner and canned a three-pointer that pushed their lead to 10 with 1:53 left.
On his way down the floor, Magat faced the roaring Warrior crowd, gestured to his chest and made a heart sign, telling Spin.ph afterwards that he meant it as an expression of love for his school, his team and their supporters.
“It’s really all about heart. I was on the verge of collapsing because it was so hot and I was battling the flu,” shared Magat, who played briefly for the San Beda Red Cubs his head coach now at USC, Britt Reroma.
“I almost couldn’t breathe but every time I looked at the bench, there was coach pointing to his chest, reminding me to play my heart out.”
It was a great run for someone who was on the verge of quitting the team last year after struggling to find a fit in the rotation of then head coach Junthy Valenzuela.
“It feels great. I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire career. A lot of great USC players went through their careers without winning one so I’m dedicating this title to all of them. I feel like I just won the lottery,” said Magat, who also played tough defense and helped limit UV wingman Leonard Santillan to just four points in the final 20 minutes.
“Leonard was really unstoppable when he was being defended by smaller players. That’s why we made the adjustment in the second half to have me own him. Sabi ko ‘bahala na mamatay’ basta manalo lang.”