HIS COACH and teammates believed he was out to prove a point against his former team, but Ateneo big man Fonzo Gotladera said he treated his first match against De La Salle as just another game.
The former Green Archer finished with 17 points and eight rebounds as he outplayed his counterpart Arnold Van Opstal in the Blue Eagles’ 97-86 win on Sunday at the Big Dome.
Gotladera scored a grand total of two points in two seasons with La Salle - the reason Ateneo coach Bo Perasol said his frontliner is motivated to have a game against his former team.
“Ibang-iba talaga ‘yung motivation ni Fonzo,” said Perasol, labelling Gotladera as his ‘Golden Boy.’ “Coming from La Salle, siyempre in a way, mayroon siguro siyang personal agenda.
“Hindi naman niya pinakita na, ‘Nagkamali kayo.’ In a way, sinasabi niya na I’m better than what you are thinking about me.”
Kiefer Ravena also believed Gotladera has a lot to prove in the game against La Salle.
“Grabe, first time ko nakita si Fonzo maglaro ng ganoon,” said Ravena, who shouted Gotladera’s name in the middle of the postgame interview. “I told him also na this is his chance to prove himself. And he did."
However, Gotladera said he treated the game as just another day at the office, saying he held no personal grudges since leaving La Salle to undergo a one-year residency to play for Ateneo.
“Coming into this game, I just wanted to defend Arnold and Norbert (Torres). Wala naman talagang agenda. We just want to win as a team. Grateful din kami na nakuha namin ‘yung panalo,” said Gotladera.
Gotladera said he ddin't know what to expect going to the game, but was heartened to receive well-wishes from his La Sallelite friends.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect… Okay naman. Nag-good luck naman mga friends ko from La Salle,” said Gotladera.
Neither did it bother Gotladera that he was specifically targeted by coach Juno Sauler when a trailing La Salle side went on a fouling binge. The ‘Hack-A-Gotladera’ tactic saw the Ateneo transferee hit half of his 10 free throws in the endgame.
“It’s a challenge for me,” said Gotladera.
Perasol said Gotladera has to make opponents pay for such strategy.
“Kung tatatngalin namin siya, lahat ng kalaban namin, gagawin ‘yun sa amin," Perasol said. "It’s a matter of giving him confidence na kaya niyang gawin ‘yun. I think he can do that.”