HEARTBREAKING the loss may be, but St. Benilde’s Mark Romero believes this is the kind of defeat that will only toughen the Blazers later on.
Romero has yet to shake off the stinging 71-70 setback his team suffered against three-time defending champion San Beda in the opener of Season 89 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Blazers appeared on the verge of pulling a king-sized upset after Romero and rookie Fons Saavedra hit back-to-back three-pointers to take a 70-69 lead in the final five seconds after being down by as much as 13 points early in the payoff period.
But the Lions ran a perfectly executed alley-oop play which Art dela Cruz completed to snatch the game away from the Blazers.
Shortly after the game-winner, Romero went down on both knees sobbing.
“Sobrang painful nung loss,” said Romero after emerging out of the St. Benilde locker room.
“Beda is a big mountain for us to overcome,” he admitted. “And I pray that one day we could overcome them.”
Romero, expected to take the offensive cudgels for the Blazers this season following the loss of top gunner Carlo Lastimosa, came away with a team-high 19 points for St. Benilde.
He said he’d like to charge the loss to experience which he hopes would help the team in the future, especially during closely-fought games.
“In the near future we would win in games like this. But for now, I will dwell on this (loss), and move on later,” he said.
New coach Gabby Velasco shared the same sentiment of his star player.
“Of course again lesson learned. Pero di naman lagi na lang natututo kami. Dapat kami naman magpapatuto sa kalaban.”