MIKE Nieto admitted to feeling hurt when his twin brother Matt was cut and bloodied by a Ben Mbala inadvertent elbow with 36.6 seconds to go in the first half and Ateneo leading La Salle, 43-36, at the break of the UAAP Season 80 finals opener.
"Well to be honest, nung nahulog si Matt, noong nasiko siya ni Ben, kung makikita niyo sa vid, I threw the towel on the floor kasi parang nasaktan din ako nung natamaan si Matt," said Nieto.
"I didn't want to see my brother na masaktan," he added.
Eventually, the elder Nieto got payback for his brother in the best way possible.
Big Mike scored all of his 11 points in the second half as Ateneo dropped La Salle, 76-70, in Game One on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Nieto scored seven early points in the fourth period, including back-to-back putbacks to allow the Blue Eagles to create early separation in the fourth, 69-59.
The Green Archers cut the lead to one, 71-70, but Nieto's early explosion proved to be vital for the top seeded Blue Eagles.
"I didn't want to retaliate by hurting La Salle physically or punching them, I just wanted to win the game. Ateneo-La Salle na rin yan, ayaw namin magpatalo," Nieto continued.
"I just got really motivated when Matt got down. Hindi naman sinasadya ni Ben, medyo na-motivate lang ako, I really needed to step up, medyo dikdikan yung laro and we had to enjoy those types of games."
Nieto is happy to see his squad maturing and peaking at the right time and he knows they need it more than ever against this tough Green Archers squad.
The FEU series proved to be vital for them and he knows that after outlasting the Tamaraws' gallant stand, they can face anything.
"Medyo nag-mature na rin yung team. Hindi na kami ganoon nara-rattle, no mater what La Salle gives us. Nagbabakbakan na ng FEU last game and we came with a win against them so medyo nasanay na kami sa pressure," he said.