WINNING in a national-level basketball league, not to mention avenging a loss in the UAAP Finals, is a fitting Christmas gift for University of Santo Tomas head coach Pido Jarencio.
After the Growling Tigers humbled the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 81-76, in the Game Three of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League Friday, Jarencio and his boys finally savored what he and his boys had longed for since the start of the UAAP season - a championship.
"Early Christmas gift na 'to kasi at least this year may championship kami," said Jarencio. "Isang taon kaming number one kasi next year na lang ulit may papalit."
After falling short of halting the Blue Eagles' five-peat flight in the UAAP, Jarencio felt he has finally realized his dream to put the UST basketball program right where it should be.
"Siguro blessing na din 'to," he said. "Gusto ko ibalik ang UST sa basketball scene at maging number one sa college (basketball)."
Senior guard Jeric Fortuna was simply happy to end his career with UST with a long-overdue championship.
Fortuna had sprained his left ankle in his PBA D-League game with Blackwater last Tuesday and skipped the practices of UST in the days leading to Game Three, but decided to play his last game as a Growling Tiger.
"Kumikirot pa rin, pero tiniis ko na lang yung sprain ko. Gusto ko talaga maglaro. Gusto ko maging masaya ang UST community," said Fortuna.
"Hindi ko na inisip yung revenge, gusto ko lang manalo para sa UST," added Fortuna, the outgoing team captain. "Very happy kasi aalis ako ng UST na may championship."