UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas coach Pido Jarencio asked his players to show who has the biggest heart and the smallest Tiger heeded the call.
Jamil Sheriff restored order for the Tigers when Ateneo mounted a last-ditch stand in the second half, helping UST pull off an 82-74 victory that knocked the Blue Eagles of the Final Four race.
Sheriff came up with four points, grabbed seven boards, and dished out five assists. More importantly, the 5-9 guard provided the spark and the energy on the floor each time he came off the bench for Pido Jarencio.
"I just did my best, I gave it my all knowing its a do or die," said the back-up point guard.
Sheriff, a Filipino-Canadian who is in his second season with the Tigers, said he knows that he has to fill up the gap left by former UST playmaker Jeric Fortuna.
"It came down to effort and I gave my hundred percent effort. I didn't want to waste any chance every possession so I gave it my all every single second I was on the court," he said.
Sheriff was one of two bench players who played big roles in the big win, the other being Ed Daquioag who hit four of his 13 points in the final period when UST made the game-winning breakaway.
Like Sheriff, Daquioag was also fearless on the court - a major transformation for someone who lacked confidence during his early years in the league.
UST team manager Rudy Yu said the lanky Daquioag lost his place in the team previously because of health reasons but has since been reinstated after getting a clearance from doctors.
"We're trying to build up his confidence again," said Yu of the two-guard from Ilocos, who previously played for Rizal Technological University before he was recruited for the Tigers by assistant Gina Francisco.
The player has been a changed man since his return.
"Confident ako na mananalo kami," Daquioag said after the win over the Blues Eagles. "Hindi ko naisip na ito na yung last game namin."