FORGOTTEN by his coach the first time, Kent Lao dished off a performance to remember on Sunday.
The University of Santo Tomas back-up made the most out of his minutes in lieu of starter Aljon Mariano, playing his best game of his Tigers career in the match against Far Eastern University.
After sitting out UST's season debut simply because rookie coach Bong Dela Cruz forgot about him, the third-year forward from St. Stephen High School scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 22 minutes against the Tamaraws.
To cap it off, Lao also converted the game-winner - a lay-up off an FEU turnover as he helped the Tigers leap past Tamaraws, 69-67, for their first win of the season.
So impressive was Lao’s performance that he became a trending topic on Twitter, which should remind Dela Cruz of what he forgot in the Tigers' 59-40 loss to National University.
At least, Dela Cruz was man enough to admit his mistake.
“Inaamin ko, nakalimutan ko si Kent Lao. Nawala sa rotation ko si Kent Lao," said the UST rookie coach. "Kinausap ko siya na nagkamali ako, na kailangan siya sa game. Nag-deliver naman siya.”
Dela Cruz said Lao’s performance was so impressive that he opted to sit out Mariano in the endgame. The Tigers starters finished with four points.
“Maganda ‘yung laro ni Kent Lao. Kailangan ko siyang ibalik. Nandoon si Aljon pero na-feel ko na sa pagkakataong ‘yun, kailangan ko si Kent,” Dela Cruz said.
Lao said he was surprised to be given extra minutes especially in the endgame. Nevertheless, the 20-year-old was happy with how he responded.
“Nagulat din ako. Ginrab ko lang talaga ‘yung opporuntiy na makapaglaro and make the most out of it. Nag-focus lang ako,” said Lao.
"Kung wala rin naman ‘yung teammates ko, hindi ko rin magagawa ‘yun."