ALJON Mariano just became the most talked about University of Santo Tomas player in the UAAP Finals - albeit for the wrong reasons.
The Tigers forward immediately became a trending topic on Twitter after his horror playoff performance turned from bad to worse - no thanks to an error in judgment late in regulation and a major blunder in overtime.
Just moments after De La Salle hoisted its first UAAP trophy in five years after a 71-69 victory on Saturday, the usually reliable forward became the subject of scorn from not a few fans who felt he was the goat for the Tigers.
With UST ahead, 69-68, after Jeron Teng missed the second of his free throws, Mariano grabbed the rebound with 30 seconds to play as the Tigers looked to put the game away.
But instead of holding on to the ball while under pressure, Mariano threw a wild pass that an outstretched Kevin Ferrer couldn't even touch.
The Green Archers immediate pounced on that turnover as Almond Vosotros hit the one-dribble pull-up jumper with 19.7 seconds in overtime that proved to be the marginal basket.
That one turnover capped a horrible playoff run for the veteran forward, who was held to 11 points in the first two games and scored no more than three points in the title decider.
UST coach Pido Jarencio had in fact told Spin.ph that he hoped the 'missing' Mariano would finally show up, five days before the title decider against the Green Archers.
[For full story, see Jarencio hopes 'missing' Mariano will finally show up in title decider]
UST assistant coach Estong Ballesteros had little explanation for Mariano’s poor series.
“Nasa kanya na ‘yun, siya ang naglalaro,” said Ballesteros. “Tinuturo lang sa kanya ‘yung dapat.
“Masama lang talaga ang laro niya.”
Mariano actually sent Game Three into overtime when he nailed two pressure-packed free throws with 53.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 65-all.
However, he ignored an open Jeric Teng and decided to go at it alone in the final play of regulation, hoisting a jumper from the top of the key that capped his 0-of-10 stint from the floor.