With Benilde-La Salle Green Hills calling their last timeout and Colegio de San Juan de Letran up by double-digits, NCAA Season 98 juniors MVP and Greenies star Luis Pablo could not help but feel emotional.
Time was running out for his Greenies, and he was counting down the seconds not only of the game but for this chapter of his young basketball career.
"Last one minute na, nagsisink-in na sa' kin na parang 'ito na," said Pablo.
"Sobrang nag-sink in sa' kin na 'This is it.' Sobrang laki na ng lamang nila [with] one minute left. 'Di pa rin po ako naggi-give up, binibigay ko pa rin po lahat kasi sobrang pagod na ako," he added.
("Last one minute, it began to sink in that this might be it... It really sank in that 'This is it.' The lead was too big with a minute left. I was still not giving up, I was still giving my all and I was so tired.")
It was a painful ending for Pablo, who would be leaving an unfulfilled promise to his teammates, many of whom had been together with him for a while.
"Sobrang sakit lang po kasi ang tagal ko na pong kasama teammates ko, sina Ethan [Alian], CJ [Mesias], sina James [Ison], sina Seven [Gagate], sina Santi [Romero]. Ito na po kasi 'yung last high school game na magkakasama," he said.
"Nung medyo bata-bata pa kami, nag-promise po kami sa isa't isa na malaki po ang maa-achieve namin, pero proud pa rin ako sa team namin. May napatunayan po kami kahit papano. Umabot po kami ng finals kahit we fell short. Sobrang thankful pa rin ako."
"Nung last minutes na lang po ng game, nagsi-sink na rin po sa akin ang emotion na hindi po namin nakuha 'yung pangarap naming makamit which is championship sa NCAA," he said.
("It hurts a lot because we have been teammates for a long-time, Ethan, CJ, James, Seven, Santi. This would be our last high school game together... When we were younger, we promised each other that we would achieve great things but I'm still proud of our team. We were able to prove something. We reached the Finals even if we fell short. I'm still so thankful... In the last minutes of the game, it was sinking in that we would not be able to accomplish our dream, which is winning a championship in the NCAA.")
Fellow LSGH Seven Gagate, who was earlier named a member of the Season 98 Mythical Five and the Most Improved Player of the season, echoed Pablo's feelings.
"Sa akin lang, ginawa ko talaga 'yung best ko kasi sino bang ayaw manalo?" said Gagate.
"Gusto talaga naming manalo. 'Yun 'yung goal talaga," he added.
("For me, I did my best, because who doesn't want to win? We wanted to win, that was really the goal.)
Speaking about his fellow Gilas Pilipinas Youth player Pablo, Gagate expressed hopes that this isn't the end of the journey together.
"Medyo bitin na hindi. Sana magkasama pa kami in the future," he said.
("It's feels a little short, but maybe not. I hope we can still be together in the future.")
With their high school years over, Pablo and Gagate will move onto the next chapter of their basketball careers. The two are on the path of being part of the future of Philippine basketball, being part of the Gilas youth program and named to the Top 5 of the NBTC 24, the National Basketball Training Center's list of the top high school basketball players in the country.
—JMB, GMA Integrated News