TERRENCE Fortea didn't deny that his suspension late in the second round lit a fire under him, making him realize a lot of things he needs to fix to help Nazareth School of National University in its quest to claim the UAAP Season 81 juniors' championship.
"Meron din talagang motivation para sa akin mula sa nangyari," he said. "Dahil sa suspension ko, parang sobrang dami kong na-realize rin. Yung maturity, na-realize ko dapat ko pang pagigihan para rin sa akin."
Fortea was slapped with a disqualifying foul in the Bullpups' second round faceoff against De La Salle-Zobel on his hit on Ranz Unisa and was subsequently meted with a one-game suspension, one which he served against UE.
But when he returned, the 17-year-old was on a different plane.
Fortea rekindled the flame that made him a household name from last season's Finals, averaging 23.0 points since his suspension.
That blaze of glory couldn't be any more evident than in NU's 94-72 trouncing of Adamson in the Final Four on Friday, where he waxed hot anew and tied his career-high of 30 points on a 7-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc.
Even Bullpups coach Goldwin Monteverde praised the growth of his fourth-year guard in becoming one of the team's undisputed leaders.
"From before until now, eventually papunta naman talaga siya doon. Ang maganda sa kanya yung attitude niya towards practice and his attitude everyday, he always gives his best. So there's really no doubt on my part that he's capable of playing this way," he said.
And as NU returns to the Finals for the eighth straight year, Fortea's desire to win another title for Jhocson burns oh so brightly, especially with last year's tormentors and defending champion Ateneo once again standing in his way.
"Gusto naming bumawi talaga kasi two straight losses na kami sa Finals eh," he said, with the Bullpups' last championship coming from the Jeff Napa-coached team in Season 78 back in 2016. "Parang ngayon, sobrang motivated talaga kami."