EVERY free throw Jon Sheriff made was cheered by the University of Santo Tomas crowd as if it was a game-winner in a winner-take-all match.
It was understandable, though.
With an unorthodox, two-handed release, Sheriff is one of the poorest - if not the worst - free-throw shooters in the UST side, and he naturally became the target of a desperate National University side when the Bulldogs started fouling late in their UAAP Final Four match.
The 'Hack-a-Sheriff' ploy worked as the Tigers guard made just four of 12 free throws, but, fortunately for him, it didn't hurt enough to keep UST from pulling off a 64-55 victory and earning a trip to the finals.
It wasn’t the first time Sheriff was time and again fouled away from the ball by teams desperate to get back in the game and the player knows he has to improve his free-throw shooting to discourage the play.
“On my part, I have to do a better job of making my free throw shots," he said. "It’s more of a psychological thing. I just have to work on it in practice.”
UST coach Bong dela Cruz, however, said he still has complete faith in Sheriff. He in fact even brought back Sheriff into the game to replace Marvin Lee in the final minutes for defensive purposes.
Cruz credited Sheriff for his defensive game as he helped limit NU top gun Gelo Alolino to six points.
“May tiwala ako sa kanya. HIndii lang talaga pumapasok. Gamble ‘yun eh. Pinabayaan ko lang siya. Binalik ko siya for defensive purposes,” said Dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz also added there is no need for the team to help Sheriff overcome his free throw woes.
“Hindi na. Kaya na ni Jon ‘yan. Babawi ‘yan,” said Dela Cruz.