COACH Tab Baldwin has always preached the "next man up" mentality to his wards in Ateneo, that no matter who struggles in a game, someone is ready to make up for those deficiencies.
William Navarro took that lesson to heart and bid his time, and finally on Sunday, showed what he can do for the Blue Eagles.
With bigs like Angelo Kouame, Raffy Verano, and Isaac Go saddled with foul trouble, the 6-foot-5 forward stepped up to the plate and went toe-to-toe with his Lasallian counterparts.
Navarro made the most of his 17 minutes on the floor, chipping in seven points and five rebounds for the game as he kept Ateneo afloat just in time before Kouame and company did their damage in the second half.
"Opportunity came eh. Foul trouble sila so I just had to step up my game and contribute as much as I can," he said after a good day's work for the Katipunan crew.
Navarro, who is averaging just 2.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 13 minutes of action for UAAP Season 81, admitted that it wasn't an easy night relieving Kouame of his duties down low for the majority of the first half.
"Honestly, medyo nahirapan ako kasi I had to guard big guys like (Taane) Samuel," said the Greece-raised forward.
But one thing working in Navarro's favor is his stellar play in the offseason as he turned heads in Ateneo's campaigns in the summer leagues as well as the 2018 Jones Cup. His play there is a proof that though he failed to sustain his play early in the year, he has it in him to deliver when it matters the most for the Blue Eagles.
"Maganda talaga ang pinakita ko nung preseason. Pero this UAAP season, I had a really bad start. I didn't do much at hindi ko napakita yung totoong makakakaya ko. Pero ngayon, opportunity ito kaya I tried to do my best. I just had to step up," he said.
And what better time for Navarro to pick up the slack than in an Ateneo-La Salle game and with the Final Four just around the corner.
"Hopefully, tuloy-tuloy na ito," he said. "Hindi mo naman mapipili kung kailan magkakaroon ng opportunity. Basta ako, ginawa ko lang yung best ko. Nakaka-boost ng confidence itong laro na ito kaya somehow, sana tuloy-tuloy na siya."