AFTER four years of waiting in the shadows of more celebrated reinforcements, it was finally Issa Gaye's time to shine for the National University.
The patience of the Bulldogs was rewarded as Gaye stood out in his UAAP debut in the Season 80 men’s basketball tournament on Saturday.
Gaye finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks in just 15 minutes of play to help the Bulldogs snare an 86-69 win over University of the East on opening day at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The lanky reinforcement dropped eight of his total output in the opening quarter where the Bulldogs took a 20-13 headway. They hardly slowed down from there. But Gaye played down his role in the strong start.
“I'm just gonna do my job in the team and that is to be always in the paint. I will always be there," Gaye said shortly after the match.
The 20-year-old Senegalese had to take a back seat and watch Emmanuel Mbe and Alfred Aroga anchor the rejuvenated Bulldogs under coach Eric Altamirano.
But it was worth the wait.
"I was so excited before the game but when the game started, it's over na. Kasi I'm like that. When the game starts, I will focus inside the game. That's it," he said.
Still, the NU slotman’s debut was far from perfect as he played through foul trouble. It’s something Gaye hopes to address for him to help the Bulldogs return to the Final Four this season.
"I got like four fouls but next time, I'm trying to keep my fouls to two or three so I can come in the game," he said.
"That's why I didn't play much because of my foul trouble. But next time I'm gonna do my best to lessen my fouls."