ONE could only imagine the agony College of St. Benilde is going through after suffering another heartbreaker in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Thursday at The San Juan Arena.
The 78-80 loss to San Sebastian on Thursday was the fifth straight for the Blazers in games that could've gone either way down the stretch as they remained the only winless team in the country’s oldest collegiate league.
The pain is greater for Paolo Taha, who committed a crucial turnover down the stretch and bungled two makeable close-range baskets against the Stags that could’ve forced overtime.
His pain, Taha said, is like being rejected by a woman – and not just once.
“Sobra pa, parang binasted ka ng sampung babae, parang wala talagang pumapansin na eh,” he said, unable to hide his disappointment while speaking to a handful of scribes after emerging from the Blazers’ dugout.
“Wala akong maikukumpara sa sakit na (nararamdaman ko). Ito na yata ang pinaka-down part ng career ko sa team,” Taha added.
The 22-year-old Filipino-Arabian swingman actually scored the breakaway layup that gave the Blazers a 78-74 lead with less than two minutes left to play.
Unfortunately, he also committed the error that led to the Stags’ Leo de Vera being sent to the foul line and scoring the game-winning charities.
Taha then missed two shots in their next offensive possession that could’ve sent the game into overtime.
“Usually nasu-shoot ko `yung mga scoop shots na ganun. Siguro hindi ko lang time kanina,” said Taha, who also rued his team’s missed free throws - 14 in all.
“Na-shoot lang sana namin tatlo dun, may possibility na manalo kami,” he said. “During the last part ng game, dun kami sinisingil ng mga hindi namin na-e-execute na simple things. Pinagbabayaran namin sa dulo.”
Now, the Blazers are mired in their worst start since 2004 when they lost their first 11 games.
“Syempre nado-down kami, pero hindi naman ibig sabihin na wala kaming gagawin. Siyempre kailangan naming mag-stick together kasi walang ibang paraan para umakyat kami. We need to work as a team. Walang ibang magtutulungan kundi kami.”
Taha has actually been in a similar situation before during last year's PBA D-League Foundation Cup, where he played for PC Gilmore team that lost its first five games before winning its next four and almost reaching the quarterfinals.
“Siguro `yung experience ko dun, `yung mga natutunan ko dun, kailangan ko i-reach out at i-share sa teammates ko … para makatulong sa team at mag-grow kami,” he said.