CARLO Lastimosa regrets missing the free throw that could’ve won the game in regulation outright for Blackwater in its 120-124 overtime loss to Phoenix in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday.
The Elite star guard had a chance to cap their comeback from 16 points down and steal the win as he knocked down a desperation game-tying three-pointer and drew a foul with 1.1 seconds left, but he failed to complete the rare four-point play as his free throw was off the mark. The Elite then saw the Fuel Masters bank on a stretch where they scored eight unanswered points in the extra session to preserve the victory.
The 25-year-old-cager blamed pressure and his shooting hand that suddenly went stiff for his botched charity attempt. But despite the circumstances, Lastimosa emphasized he wanted to take the shot as he worked hard to rally his team back from a big deficit.
“Sobra (ni-regret ko),” Lastimosa told SPIN.ph on Thursday. “Syempre, gustung-gusto mong manalo, so for me, ako na lang yung titira, parang guts ko na lang. Gusto ko ako yung titira kasi pinag-hirapan ko ‘yun na habulin yung lamang eh, kasi kung nanalo kami, may (mataas na) chance pa sana kaming pumasok (sa playoffs).
“Syempre, hindi naman mawawala yung kaba eh, nandun talaga yun eh, tapos masakit pa yung kamay ko nun,” Lastimosa added. “Before pa nung play na yun, pagkuha ko ng bola, parang [nanigas] yung kamay ko pero syempre, adrenaline, hindi ko napansin nung tumira ako. Napansin ko na lang na nag-stiff yung kamay ko sa may palm, kaya matigas nung pag-tira ko.”
The missed free throw sparked controversy as Elite coach Leo Isaac was quoted by a staff member in a SPIN.ph story, delivering a cryptic speech in the dugout after the game, to which Lastimosa was left dumbfounded and dismayed.
“Something fishy? Parang iba yung dating eh,” Lastimosa said. “Syempre na-shock lang ako, kasi syempre, lahat naman tayo, gusto manalo, ‘di ba? Nakita mo naman yung ginawa namin as a team tapos ako, as a player, I saw to it na kailangan habulin talaga. Nahabol naman namin, kaso lang (natalo). Ganun talaga eh – minsan natatalo, minsan sasablay.”
“Ayaw ko magsalita kasi syempre coach sila eh,” he added. “Hindi ko alam kung ano yung nakikita nila.”
The prolific third-year guard, who is among the top local scorers in the tournament with a 20.6-point average, admitted he was hurt to see comments that he intentionally missed the free throw.
“Grabe naman yun. Bakit ganun yung maiisip?” Lastimosa asked. “Ayaw ko naman mag-brag, pero kung hindi ko naman sinikap, hindi naman kami dadating sa point na yun. Tambak na kami nun eh.”
Lastimosa, who scored just two points in the first half, caught fire after the break, especially in the fourth quarter, where he scattered 14 of his game-high 28 points as he almost singlehandedly carried the Elite back to the game.
“Gusto mong manalo tapos yun yung sasabihin ng tao na gusto ko isablay yung free throw. Ano yun?” he asked. “Hindi ko ma-gets yung mga ganun klaseng pagtingin. Hindi kasi nila alam na as a player, pag nilagay ka sa ganun sitwasyon, may pressure talaga eh.”
“You can’t please everyone,” he added. “Wala na ako masasabi kung ganun ang tingin nila – kung ako man ang tinutukoy nila.”
Still, Lastimosa vowed to give his best even if the coaching staff might have doubts.
“Yun ang mahirap eh. Team kayo tapos kayo-kayo mismo, walang tiwala sa isa’t-isa,” Lastimosa admitted. “Wala eh, coach sila. Sila may hawak sa amin, so kung ano ipapagawa nila, kung gagamitin ba ako o hindi, basta kung nasa court ako, hundred percent lagi.”
“Hindi naman magbabago yun,” he concluded.