ALJUN Melecio could only stare at the heavens in exhaustion as the reality of the situation slowly set upon him.
With 5:50 left to play in the fourth quarter, Melecio dished the ball to Santi Santillan as Gian Mamuyac bumped him out of bounds, forcing him to helplessly lean on the barricade.
“Nagpahinga lang talaga ako saglit kasi nakakapagod din tumakbo ng pabalik-balik,” he explained.
The score read 54-40, a 14-point deficit for La Salle which was still a manageable lead had the Taft side got back to its usual bearings.
But in this game, Melecio was alone in keeping the flame alive for the Green Archers as fatigue slowly got the better of him, leading him to miss his freebies.
That was when the reality dawned on UAAP Season 79 Rookie of the Year: that even his best was not enough against a juggernaut team like Ateneo as La Salle suffered a 71-55 rout for its third loss in UAAP Season 81.
It couldn’t deter Melecio, however, from giving his all as he poured 21 points, seven rebounds, an assist, and a steal as he was the lone bright spot for the Green Archers.
“Binibigay ko naman lagi yung best ko every game,” he said, valiantly fighting for the green squad despite being heavy underdogs against the defending champions.
“Lumaki ako sa probinsya kaya lahat ng sacrifices ko, gusto ko mag-pay off. Eto na eh, binigyan na ako ng chance na ganito kaya ayokong ganun-ganun lang matalo. I gave my best talaga.”
That loss sent La Salle to an even 3-3 record, while also leaving the team a lot of questions to be answered as it seeks to bounce back against Adamson next Saturday.
For Melecio, though, as tiring as this game was, the road to redemption starts now.
“Diretso kami sa Razon (Gym). Magshu-shooting kami ng dad ko. Pumunta siya rito from Bukidnon. Bumisita siya, pero tonight, trabaho muna kami,” he said.
Basketball never stops, indeed.