Eriobu redeems self after being reduced to tears by tongue-lashing from coaches
Joseph Eriobu gets a verbal barrage from Mapua assistant Ed Cordero. Dante Peralta

MAPUA'S Joseph Eriobu was reduced to tears while taking his free throws with 3.4 ticks left in a game against Perpetual on Friday. 

Moments earlier, Eriobu got a tough-lashing from head coach Atoy co and assistant Ed Cordero for holding on to the ball too long after securing the rebound off Allwell Oraeme's missed free throw.

Instead of passing off to an open CJ Isit that would've enabled Mapua to waste the remaining time away, Eriobu hugged the ball for a few seconds before being fouled by Perpetual's Daryl Singontiko.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, the teary-eyed Fil-Nigerian regained his composure and still made both pressure-packed shots to seal the Mapua's 67-63 win over the Altas in the 92nd NCAA basketball tournament. 

[See Cardinals beat Altas to secure No. 3 seed in NCAA playoffs]

Later Eriobu said he understood why his coaches were livid during that final sequence. 

"Akala ko kasi wala ng oras kaya I hugged the ball. Dapat pinasa ko raw kay CJ kasi open siya. E akala ko talaga, wala nang oras so nasigawan ako," explained Eriobu after the win.

"May point yung coaches ko. Good thing dun, focused ako dun sa last two free throws."

The Cardinals forward also quick to put the tongue-lashing behind him, likening his relationship to his coaches to that of father and son. 

"Yung relasyon namin, parang mag-ama lang talaga kami. Kumbaga, pag yung anak, napagalitan, iiyak," he said.

"Sa kanya (Co), sabi nya prodigal son daw niya ako, pero sa storya na yun, yung prodigal son na yun, bumait, bumalik. Sa amin normal na yun."

In fact, he gets fired up whenever his coaches scold him, Eriobu said. 

"Sobrang nakaka-motivate sa akin kapag nagagalit sila ni Coach Ed. Pero naiintindihan ko naman yun, I understand na mahal nila yung ginagawa nila," he said.

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But the emotion abruptly turned from sadness to joy for Eriobu as the Cardinals clinched the No. 3 spot heading into the playoffs.

Eriobu said he is motivated to help the team reach the finals after enduring losing seasons with Mapua since his rookie year. 

"Sobrang saya ko kasi yung rookie palang kami ni Andoy (Estrella) lagi kaming nasa bottom. Sobrang thankful kami kay God na nakaabot kami rito. Pati mga coaches namin na nagtitiwala sa amin," he said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros