By Jerome Lagunzad
(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – UST vs UE
4 p.m. – FEU vs Adamson
On a fine Wednesday evening, University of the East’s Alvin Pasaol granted sports scribes’ request for an autograph on the post-game stats sheet. He even posed for photo ops with some and even turned most of his teammates into his new set of fans.
Without a doubt, the Red Warriors top gunner was the man of the moment and he has all the reasons to feel so.
Up against one of the most tenacious defense in collegiate ranks, Pasaol torched defending champion La Salle with 49 points in an astonishing offensive performance that gained a fair share of the limelight despite UE’s 106-100 loss in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament.
“Alvin was awesome tonight and he really gave us a show,” said Red Warriors coach Derrick Pumaren afterwards, impressed no end with how the sophomore forward proved a handful against his more heralded Green Archers counterparts, including reigning league MVP Ben Mbala who even gave him a pat on the back.
“I told him to keep working,” said the 6-foot-7 Cameroonian who also broke his personal best for the third time this season with 39 points. “He did a great job. When a guy plays well, you have to acknowledge him. It’s a game of basketball after all and we should have fun.”
Pasaol certainly did as he made 20 of his 30 attempts from the field, including five triples, despite dealing with a mild sprain on his right ankle after stepping on the foot of La Salle big man Abu Tratter in the opening minutes.
“Hindi ko po naisip na magagawa ko ‘yun,” said the former Holy Cross of Davao College star of the most productive output in recent memory that bested the 43-point explosion made by Jeff Napa during his heyday with National University in 2002.
“I’m happy for him,” shared Napa, who is now calling the shots for Letran in the NCAA. “Pero sana nanalo. But it’s a great motivation for him para lalo siya magpursigi sa kanyang career at matulungan ang team niya.”
Pasaol also put himself in the record books above an illustrious pair of dead-eye shooters in former UE star Allan Caidic and University of Santo Tomas counterpart Pido Jarencio who scored 46 points and 48, respectively, when the Red Warriors beat the Growling Tigers (then known as the Glowing Goldies) 112-99 to claim the UAAP crown in 1984.
Former national team standout Ed Cordero still holds the UAAP record of 54 points which he set during UST’s 95-89 win over Adamson on July 29, 1979 at the Loyola Center (currently known as the Blue Eagle gym) in Quezon City.
Pasaol should be motivated more than ever to help UE score a breakthrough win when they take on fellow struggler University of Santo Tomas tomorrow in a battle of winless teams at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Kapag hindi na po injured, hopefully makaabot ng 50 (points),” he said with a grin.
Pumaren has no qualms about such plans, saying: “As long as he’s playing within the system, as long as he’s taking good shots, ok lang sa akin ‘yun.”