FROM the moment Adamson took Jerom Lastimosa in, the kid knew he was a long way away from his home city of Dumaguete.
"Di ko ine-expect na madadala ko yung laro ko from Dumaguete. Di pa ako nakakalaro dito sa UAAP, pero sabi ko, susubukan ko lang gawin ang laro ko doon," said the Falcons' young, irreverent guard.
Adamson coach Franz Pumaren took his chance on the 20-year-old, and though the Falcons fell short in their quest for a place in the UAAP Season 81 finals, Lastimosa will go down as one of his success stories for the year.
"That's a testament to our program," the five-time UAAP champion coach said. "Whoever heard of Jerom Lastimosa? Not even a single drop in the radar saw him or noticed him. We are just starting the program and siguro, what we showed this year and the last two years is that we can develop our recruits."
Lastimosa averaged 7.13 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.67 assists in his rookie year in Adamson as he earned his spot in Pumaren's main rotation. It turned out his solid play in the eliminations was just the tip of the iceberg.
Lastimosa stepped up big in Game Two of the Final Four against University of the Philippines, bravely hitting the three-pointer with 2.6 seconds left that forced overtime. He continued that tear in the extra period with another trey with 2:39 remaining that put the Falcons up, 84-78, and cooly canned a pair of free throws with 27.1 ticks left that knotted the score at 87.
However, the 5-foot-10 playmaker's heroics went for naught as the Maroons turned to veteran Paul Desiderio late in overtime to put away an 89-87 victory.
Stinging as the loss may be for the Falcons, Pumaren believed that the positives outweighed the negatives for Lastimosa, who unloaded 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and a block in the do-or-die game.
"He made some mental mistakes, but that's part and parcel of being a 20-year-old kid out of the province. I don't think he imagined that he will play in a situation like this," he said.
Lastimosa, who by the way isn't related to PBA great Jolas, was proud of the fight Adamson showed.
"Pagka-shoot ko ng three-points, nasa isip ko talaga ibibigay sa amin ni Lord. Pero hindi pala para sa amin," he said. "Yung pinakita namin na laban kanina, maganda naman. Talagang talo lang kasi nagkulang kami doon sa last five minutes. So sad."
It's no question, though, that Lastimosa's stellar performance at this stage could only mean good things for the Falcons' future.
"Pagbutihan ko lang. Magma-mature pa ako at iaangat ko pa ang laro ko para mas maganda ang laruin namin. Alam ko naman sa sarili ko na ako na talaga yung point guard for next season," he said.