THE last time Aljon Mariano was in the finals, University of Santo Tomas stood one win away from a UAAP championship only to lose the final two games - and the series - to La Salle.
Mariano now hopes history doesn't repeat itself, saying he is ready to do whatever it takes to give Barangay Ginebra the title it had waited for over the past eight years - and redemption from the Tigers' finals defeat.
“If given the opportunity, ibubuhos ko lahat para makatulong sa team at makakuha ng championship,” said Mariano on Tuesday at the end of Ginebra's practice.
Mariano knows the pain of losing in the finals, more so with a one-game lead having gone through the ordeal during Season 76 when UST lost in the best-of-three championship series to La Salle.
Now he finds himself in the same situation with Ginebra up 3-2 over Meralco in the PBA Governors Cup Finals - and he is determined to write a different ending, even in his role as a second stringer.
Following Ginebra’s practice on the eve of Game Six, Mariano stayed on and did extra work by polishing his shot, both from the perimeter and from afar.
“Nung time na ‘yun, masakit,” said Mariano, recalling the 2013 finals loss to the Green Archers. “Kasama ‘yun sa pag-grow mo at maging stronger ka as a person. Marami kang matututunan.”
And what has he learned?
“’Yung mga little things, ‘yun ang importante para manalo ng championship,” he answered.
Mariano has become an unlikely contributor to Ginebra's run to the finals, thanks to his quality minutes off the bench both in the eliminations and playoffs.
He is dead set on doing the same in the pivotal Game Six.
“Ready lang talaga ako every day sa practice, pinapakita ko na gusto kong maglaro. Nag-peprepare ako para kapag nabigyan ako ng opportunity, ready lang ako,” said Mariano.