MANILA—Reigning rookie of the year Mark Nonoy could not hold his tears back as the buzzer rang at Araneta Coliseum that saw University of Santo Tomas crushed by defending champion Ateneo in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 82 finals.
Nonoy was alone in carrying the scoring load for the Growling Tigers, scoring 26 points and making seven 3-pointers. UST trailed the entire game before surrendering a decisive 91-77 loss to the Blue Eagles.
"Masakit kasi ito na 'yung goal namin pero na-short kami. Pero babawi kami sa Game 2," Nonoy told reporters.
Head coach Aldin Ayo described Nonoy's game as another unconscious performance but with all his approval to take those contested shots.
"Wala na nakaka-shoot. We have to take those shots," Ayo said. "Good thing, he was unconscious, but at the same time papunta na rin du'n sa gusto naming mangyari na maging playmaker."
The multi-titled coach also acknowledged the freshman's presence of mind especially when getting trapped by the Blue Eagles' defense in the second half.
"Every time na nako-cover siya, he was very willing to give up the ball," Ayo said.
According to the highly touted freshman, the team will go back to the drawing board on Sunday to discuss what went wrong Saturday.
Nonoy pointed out poor communication on the court where UST committed 16 turnovers, which Ateneo converted to 27 points.
"Kailangan talaga namin mag-adjust. Kailangan namin 'yung communication namin sa team kasi du'n kami nagkalabo-labo," Nonoy said.
The 5-foot-8 guard stepped up for UST off the bench as Ateneo pulled away at the start. Nonoy dropped a series of triples midway through the second quarter to move the Growling Tigers within 3, 41-38, but they couldn't sustain the momentum.
"Ginawa ko lang lahat kasi nahirapan yung first group namin so kailangan namin magstep-up," he added.
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