DONALD Tankoua made up for lost time after missing all of last year’s championship run with a remarkable showing in Game One of the NCAA Season 93 finals.
Tankoua played like a man on a mission on Friday when he scored 27 points and pulled down 20 rebounds as the Red Lions defeated Lyceum, 94-87, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Tankoua missed all of last year’s finals series against Arellano due to an ACL injury in his right knee.
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez admitted Tankoua’s right knee was still an issue during the season, but was happy that the timing for his full recovery came at the right time during the playoffs.
“I really appreciate Donald,” Fernandez said. “Even though we started slow kasi he was coming off an injury, we kept him from getting in shape. Siguro na-tiyempo lang na time na ‘yung conditioning ni Donald, on time talaga pagdating sa finals especially sa playoffs, nagstart siya na maganda ang linaro.”
The 23-year-old Tankoua said he didn’t feel like he was playing in the finals again for the first time since that injury from last year as it was a championship atmosphere when he played against San Sebastian in the stepladder playoffs at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I felt good. It was hot because it’s my first time to be inside. (But) the crowd, it’s not just my first time because at MOA, same crowd,” said Tankoua.
Fernandez noted the importance of having Tankoua in such a crucial time of their campaign in Season 93.
“I reiterated to Donald to simply lead the team in protecting our defense, protecting the rim, we really have a good chance of beating any team. You see that in how he plays today. He plays defense, he gets those offensive rebounds, and he makes those points as well. Sabi ko nga, nandoon ‘yung puso ng mga players today na ayaw magpatalo,” said Fernandez.