ANTIPOLO CITY – Olu Ashaolu just lived up to NLEX’s moniker in the PBA.
Like a true warrior, Ashaolu shrugged off the pain caused by a partial tendon tear to lead his team to a rousing 103-90 upset of TnT Katropa in the season-ending Governors Cup on Friday night at the Ynares Center here.
The 30-year-old import torched TnT counterpart Mike Glover for 33 points and 23 rebounds while shooting 11-of-22 from the floor in an NLEX win fashioned out without coach Yeng Guiao and veteran big man Asi Taulava.
Ashaolu said he’ll try to play through injury as long as he can.
“I’m just trying to fight through it. I’m not sure how bad it is, but I’m gonna go and check out again with my doctor and see what’s going on,” the import said of the injury he suffered during a tune-up game against Meralco after doing what he said was a routine jump hook.
Ashaolu thought the pain would linger for just a couple days.
“I hope it would go away but it didn’t go away,” he said.
Acting coach Jojo Lastimosa disclosed Ashaolu already bid his teammates goodbye, stressing it would be unfair to them if he keeps playing on one healthy leg.
But since no replacement is yet available and the Road Warriors’ games are bunched together early in the tournament, Ashaolu volunteered to stay on until a new import comes along.
“He told me, ‘Coach, since there’s no replacement, I will give you whatever I can,’” said Lastimosa, recalling his conversation with the well-travelled import.
“And you can see he was all-out tonight with one leg not functioning,” added Lastimosa, one of the 25 Greatest Players in PBA history. “So you can see that he really wanted to win the game for the players.”
Ashaolu said he’ll try to play for NLEX as long as he can.
“I’ll try to keep playing as long as I can. I don’t want to stop playing. I want to take care of my knee for my future, but I’m here to do a job. So we’ll figure it out as a team,” he said.