Grieving Bon Batiller convinced late cousin watched over him during UE victory
UE rookie Bon Batiller only arrived on Wednesday night from General Santos City, where he paid his final respect to a cousin who he was close to. Dante Peralta

BON Batiller played his best game in the UAAP on Saturday despite a death in the family.

The 21-year-old Batiller had to fly back to his hometown of General Santos City after his cousin passed away due to complications caused by high-blood pressure. He was only 38.

UE coach Derrick Pumaren said Batiller just arrived on Wednesday night from his hometown where he paid his last respect to his cousin, who was one of the major influences why he took up basketball.

“Doon ako lumaki sa kanila,” said Batiller.

“Parang ganun po,” Batiller added, when asked if he had learned basketball from his cousin. “Bata pa ako nun. Five years old ako nun.”

[See Rookie Batiller provides spark as UE keeps title-holder NU winless]

Days after his cousin passed away, Batiller came up with his best performance as a rookie  with the Red Warriors, scoring 23 points in the 76-71 win over reigning champion National University.

“Sabi ko sa kanya na bantayan niya ako sa laro ko,” said Batiller.

Batiller had a big third quarter in which he scored 14 points before eventually finishing with four triples in the game.

The Holy Trinity College product, however, pointed to defense as the reason for the Red Warriors’ turnaround that saw them force NU to 31 turnovers.

“Nagalit si coach kasi hindi maganda laro namin. Sabi namin sa huddle, bawi tayo at ibalik natin ‘yung intensity natin kasi hindi tayo mananalo,” said Batiller.

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