ROBERT Bolick couldn't help but shed tears at the end of NorthPort's do-or-die game against San Miguel Beer on Wednesday night.
Bolick and Co. battled back from 16-points down to seize a four-point lead in the endgame. Arwind Santos single-handedly gave the Beermen back the lead with a five-point cluster, only for Bolick to answer with a drive to put NorthPort back on the driver's seat.
But with NorthPort so close to a giant upset, San Miguel battled back behind a layup and a free throw by import Chris McCullough to put away a 90-88 win and deny the Batang Pier a long-awaited appearance in the semifinals.
No wonder Bolick was inconsolable after the game, wrapping his head with his arms as teammates and rivals alike gathered around him.
"Sakit eh. I really thought we had that game. They made shots. We didn’t make shots," said the former San Beda star, who scored 13 points in the game, including six in the final quarter.
Bolick couldn't help but look back at opportunities wasted, like the wide-open Mo Tautuaa three-point try that missed and his inability to get a good look at the basket in the helter-skelter final seconds.
"I hit Mo in the corner. He was open. We live and die with that shot. It was an open shot. Just couldn’t make a basket when it mattered most. It’s part of the game,” he said.
As he sat at midcourt, teammates and San Miguel players June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross and Arwind Santos tried to console him.
Bolick didn’t reveal too much about the conversation other than Ross hinting that the could expect trash-talking to transpire more after his splendid play in the conference.
“Hindi nila alam, I don’t really talk too much trash. Just focus on the game. Sanay na ako sa ganun kasi I played in the NCAA. Mas grabe pa nga doon. Ngayon, same thing. It keeps me motivated. ‘Yun lang,” said Bolick.
Ross refused to reveal to reporters what he said to Bolick after the game, but only had good things to say about not just Bolick but the whole NorthPort team.
“I’ll keep that between me and him,” Ross said. “It wasn’t anything bad. It’s all good stuff. But I’ll keep it between us. I’m sure you’ll know the gist of it.”
“Not just him but the whole team. They are 9-2 going into the playoffs. We were up 16 again in the fourth quarter and they took a four-point lead. Luckily, we have Arwind Santos,” said the SMB guard.
Arwind Santos also comforted Bolick, saying he can feel the pain of the 23-year-old freshman guard.
“Sinasabi lang namin, nararamdaman din namin ‘yung nararamdaman niya na talagang ang laki ng naitulong niya sa team, kaya rin umaangat ang NorthPort dahil sa kanya," he said. "Kung tutuusin, kung nanalo siya, siya ang hero. Parang sinabi lang namin na darating din ‘yung time para sa kanya."
Santos sees a bright future for the rookie.
“Ngayon, minalas lang ng konti. Pero dapat hindi siya mawalan ng pag-asa. Ang chance nandiyan lang. Hindi nawawala ‘yan,” said Santos.