LA Salle could hold its head up knowing that it gave its best and came just a basket away from a return to the Final Four.
Santi Santillan consoled himself with that thought on Wednesday after his last-gasp undergoal stab with 3.1 seconds remaining inexplicably bounced off the rim, allowing Far Eastern University to escape with a 71-70 victory.
"Ganoon talaga. Wala tayong magawa doon," the graduating forward said after the Green Archers were left out of the Final Four for the first time in four years.
Aljun Melecio found Santillan down low in La Salle's final play of the game and the Cebuano forward put up a good shot against the defense of Tamaraws forwards Barkley Ebona and Richard Escoto.
Unfortunately, the ball didn't bounce his way.
"Yung last shot ko naman talagang sure ball na yun eh. Wala eh, hindi pumasok. Ganoon ang laro," he said. "May nananalo, may natatalo. Ginawa namin ang lahat ng makakaya namin para makapasok sa Final Four."
La Salle coach Louie Gonzalez said his players can hold their heads high after the loss.
"It could have gone either way. Wala akong masabi eh," the first-year mentor said, still proud with what his side has achieved despite the injuries the Green Archers had to deal with through the course of the season.
"I’m still proud of my boys na talagang up to the last second, nandoon pa rin kami sa game at lumalaban pa rin yung mga bata. Sayang lang na nasayang yung opportunity."
Gonzalez wants La Salle to use this failure as a learning experience and a motivation for next season.
"The opportunities were there, pero para sa akin rin as a coach, first time ko dito sa UAAP, it’s a big learning [experience]. Talagang napakalaking learning, napakagandang experience talaga," he said.