UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas coach Aldin Ayo was the first to admit that as much as he would've like Rhenz Abando's late basket to be a three-pointer, his high-flying forward's right foot stepped on the line.
"Stepping talaga eh. I saw it, so that was a good call," he said.
Instead of the tying the game at 80-all as the crowd mostly thought, the Tigers found themselves behind by one with 1.5 seconds remaining - the break the Green Archers needed to escape with a victory.
The loss bumped UST down the standings to 7-6 (win-loss) and complicated its dreams of snaring the No. 2 spot in the Final Four. It also extended Ayo's losing skid against his former, a fact not lost on the Sorsogon-born mentor.
"Sa akin, hindi pa tamang oras para matalo yung mga 'yan," said Ayo, whose Tigers were swept by the Archers this season. "They played well, they deserved the win. We had our lapses, madaming may lapses, and they won."
Ayo, however, did not waste the chance to give his two cents on the officiating, noting: "Even the referees, may lapses also."
But the outspoken mentor found positives in a late fightback that saw the Tigers crawl out of a 12-point hole, 69-57, with seven minutes left and nearly pull it off.
"Ganyan kami mag-practice, na lagi naming sinasabi sa mga bata na you don’t quit. Even in the endgame, you have to finish hard no matter what the score is. As long as the clock is still on, you have to keep playing," he said.