MATT Nieto was proud to make up for his defensive lapses in the fourth quarter with key plays on the offensive end in Ateneo’s 88-84 overtime win over Far Eastern University on Wednesday night.
Nieto scored six of his 16 points in overtime to help the Blue Eagles come back from eight points down in the final quarter to frustrate the Tamaraws and gain a place in the UAAP Season 80 Finals.
Nieto, however, nearly turned into a goat when he allowed Jasper Parker to blow by him and score the go-ahead lay-up for the Tamaraws with 24 seconds to play in regulation, 73-72.
The Ateneo guard also missed a potential go-ahead jumper on the next possession, leading to two free throws by Parker for a 75-72 FEU lead with 8.5 seconds remaining.
But after Isaac Go forced overtime with a trey, Nieto turned into a hero in overtime.
The 19-year-old broke an 80-80 tie with a looping jumper in the lane hitting a pull-up three-pointer right in the face of Arvin Tolentino for the cushion Ateneo needed.
The teenager simply refused to lose.
“If you look at the game, Jasper Parker drove in the lane and it was my fault,” said Nieto. “Sinasabi ko sa sarili ko, 'Hindi ito mangyayari. Hindi ako papayag na ganito mangyari sa season.”
“Because we’ve been through so much. We worked really hard. Hindi kami puwedeng matalo,” said Nieto.
The former Blue Eaglets star said it was the faith of Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga in him that enabled him to redeem himself in extra time.
“I really want to thank coach Sandy for giving me the confidence even though I’m down in the game. He just keeps on saying na, 'Kaya mo ‘yan, hindi tayo puwedeng matalo.'
"‘Yung confidence ko, lalong tumaas dahil kay coach Sandy,” added Nieto.