CONTROVERSIAL University of Santo Tomas (UST) guard Aljon Mariano wants to stay with the Tigers next season to wrap up unfinished business after a disappointing end to the school’s UAAP men’s basketball campaign.
In a brief interview over radio DZBB during the segment of GMA News reporter and Spin.ph columnist Chino Trinidad on Wednesday morning, Mariano said he intends to play his final year with the team as he aims to bounce back after coming under fire for a disappointing performance in the finals.
“May isa pa akong year, paghahandaan ko po ‘yun,” said Mariano, whose turnover late in overtime in Game Three led to the Almond Vosotros jumper that helped seal a 71-69 win for De La Salle.
For his part, UST coach Pido Jarencio said the versatile shooting guard is definitely welcome to suit up for the Tigers next season, in an SMS message to Spin.ph.
“Oo naman,” said Jarencio when asked if Mariano will return next season.
“Kailangan siya ng team next year.” said Jarencio, who also leapt to Mariano's defense in the aftermath of the heartbreaking Game Three loss.
Mariano said he was glad to receive support from fans, teammates, and most especially from his coach who stood by him amid the bashing he received for his Game Three letdown.
“Mas okay na ako ngayon kasi marami pa rin ang naniniwala sa akin,” Mariano said.
“Ganun talaga kami, team talaga kami, iba ‘yung samahan namin,” he added, referring to the support he got from his teammates.
Mariano admitted his family was also affected by the criticism but stood by his side following the loss.
“Nung una, naapektuhan din sila pero sabi nila, huwag ko na raw isipin ‘yun,” said Mariano, who has drawn interest from the multi-titled NLEX team in the PBA D-League.
Mariano, who suited up for Jumbo Plastic last conference, will be joining the Road Warriors team that has a school tie-up with San Beda in the NCAA.
Mariano played high school at San Beda.