EVEN though University of Santo Tomas is already out of the Final Four race this UAAP Season 81, Marvin Lee can still consider this year's campaign as a success.
"Achievement na ito," he admitted. "Almost half ng team namin are rookies, tapos galing kami sa baba."
The Growling Tigers have already hiked their win total to five through 13 games, with possibly win no. 6 if they upset Ateneo in their final assignment next Wednesday.
The 5-8 record is also already a big improvement from the four wins the team has amassed through the two seasons under previous coach Boy Sablan, where UST experienced its worst finish since the institution of the Final Four.
"Hindi talaga namin alam na ganito ang mangyayari sa amin," said the team captain.
Surprising as the results were for the Growling Tigers, Lee can take pride from how Espana-based crew have held themselves, competing game-in and game-out regardless of who their foe is considering that this was supposed to be a transition year in coach Aldin Ayo's first season at the helm.
"Bago pa lang mag-start ang season, sinabi namin magko-compete lang kami every game. No expectations," he said. "Pero sa tingin ko, na-achieve naman namin yung goal na mag-compete.
Though UST was on the receiving end of a handful of routs, it could still hold its head high as it has kept most of its games close with the average losing margin of only 7.62 points per game.
"Ang daming nagsabi na puro rookie kami, pero wala naman sa edad yan. Basketball player ka eh. Lahat yan makukuha mo basta araw-araw ka mag-practice, araw-araw ka maglaro. Maggo-grow at maggo-grow ka," he said.
Lee himself has benefitted with this new approach under Ayo, with him netting a team-best 15.3 points on a 31-percent shooting from threes, on top of 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
More than the numbers, though, Lee is challenging himself to be more mature as he hopes to lead UST to a better finish in his senior year come Season 82.
"Lagi lang sinasabi sa akin ni coach Aldin kung paano ko harapin ang laro at kung paano ko haharapin ang challenge. Yun lang naman eh, maging matured lang palagi," he said.