UNIVERSITY of the Philippines coach Goldwin Monteverde always knew how good JD Cagulangan is since the kid was in high school.
A star player at La Salle Greenhills, Cagulangan's prowess has always left Monteverde in awe back when his National University-Nazareth School and the Greenies cross paths in various high school tournaments.
Little did Monteverde know that he'll not only get a chance to coach Cagulangan one day, but the 5-foot-7 court general will also play the hero's role in a historic page in the history of UAAP basketball.
That happened on Friday night when Cagulangan stood tall late in overtime as the Diliman side overhauled a five-point deficit to beat three-time champion Ateneo, 72-69, in do-or-die Game Three to end a 36-year UAAP title drought.
Tense as the final moments of extra time were, Monteverde never once doubted Cagulangan as he let the 21-year-old take charge when UP fought back from a 69-64 Ateneo lead in the last 1:47.
"Knowing JD, since naman nung high school siya, minsan nakakalaban namin siya, he really had that heart na maglaro," said Monteverde after Cagulangan tallied 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the title-clincher.
It's this trust that has allowed Cagulangan to thrive in his first year in UP as he rebuilt his stock after falling in the doldrums in his brief and uneventful stay at La Salle.
"Nag-uusap kami minsan and alam na n'ya yung tiwala ng team sa kanya," Monteverde of Cagulangan, who drained two crucial treys and set up Malick Diouf for a two-handed dunk in that eight-point finishing kick.
"Alam niya yung tiwala ko sa kanya and at that given moment, wala akong doubt na pag nasa kanya na yung bola, he could really make the play, which he did."
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