UNABLE to play due to a partial ACL tear on his left knee, UP's Zavier Lucero was elated as stepped on the court in the final seconds of Game Three and scored a point for one final time in his collegiate career.
"I didn't like the way that I thought I was gonna leave things so, the plan was whether we were gonna win or gonna lose, I did wanna check in for one last time and just to hear the support from the crowd and the UP community," Lucero said after his team's 75-68 defeat to Ateneo on Monday in the UAAP Season 85 title-decider.
"It warmed my heart for sure. That's something I'm gonna remember for the rest of my life, too. Yeah, I'm just glad I made it," he added.
Lucero was fielded in by the coaching staff to shoot a technical free throw after Ateneo's bench celebrated too early with 0.7 seconds left, where he scored his solitary point.
The Maroons rallied behind Lucero through a #ZavTheDate rallying call on social media over the weekend. They also adorned their warm-up shirts with his name. He was also able to participate in shootaround, hoping to provide inspiration to a team that was looking to win its second men's basketball crown of 2022.
Reflecting fondly on his two-season stint, Lucero admitted that he was unaware of the rabid fandom of Filipinos in basketball .
His stint with UP was a memorable one, having been named as part of the Season 84 Mythical Five and was the team's second-leading scorer of Season 85 with averages of 11.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals during the elimination round.
"I think, I wish that it had more recognition around the world because you know, even as a Filipino, I didn't really know about it," he mentioned.
"So, if I had known about it, maybe I would've come out earlier, you know, because the environment is just one that you don't see many places in the world. So, yeah, I'll cherish this experience for the rest of my life for sure," he continued.
His next step is recovery from his injury as he is set to undergo a months-long rehabilitation process.