A REMORSEFUL Aljon Mariano was man enough to admit that he failed his alma mater in the biggest game of UAAP Season 76.
The University of Santo Tomas guard-forward owned up to a major blunder late in the overtime period that paved the way for La Salle’s dramatic 71-69 overtime win on Saturday night before an overflow crowd of over 23,000 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Mariano’s error came in the final 30 seconds of the extra period when he collared the rebound after a missed free throw by La Salle’s Jeron Teng. Instead of holding to the ball, with UST protecting a slim 69-68 lead, he threw an errant pass to Kevin Ferrer that gave possession back to La Salle.
And the Archers were quick to take advantage, with a driving Teng kicking the ball out to Almond Vosotros, who pumped-fake before hitting the jumper that gave La Salle the lead for good, 70-69, with 19.7 seconds.
“Oo (kasalanan ko) kasi ako naman nagde-desisyon sa mga ginagawa ko eh,” he said in a talk with Spin.ph while trying to hide behind the back of teammate Ed Daquioag as they walked out of the gloomy UST dugout.
Of that passing error, Mariano said, “Wrong decision lang. Mali lang ako.”
Mariano actually struggled in the entire series, and the deciding Game Three was no exception, where he finished 0-of-8 from the field. He finished with just three points, all from the foul line, including the two free throws with 53 seconds left that sent the game into overtime.
The UST stalwart also had 10 rebounds.
He almost won the championship match for the Tigers in the final 6.1 seconds of regulation and the game tied at 65, but failed to make the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
“Pero kung na-shoot 'yun, iba ang storya ngayon,” said Mariano, who opted to shoot the potential game-winner instead of passing to an open Jerick Teng at the corner.
“Ok naman 'yung tira ko eh, hindi nga lang na-shoot,” he said.