O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN. J-Jay Alejandro and Matt Salem want nothing more than to extend their UAAP careers – even just for a little bit longer.
Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum could have been J-Jay Alejandro’s last game with bearing in the UAAP.
The National University main man was well aware of that. “Going into the game, yun talaga yung iniisip ko. If we lose, I don’t have a chance to play in the Final Four,” he told reporters.
Indeed, that much evident as he had 17 points, nine assists, and six rebounds to lead the Bulldogs to a much-needed comeback victory versus Far Eastern University.
All but six of his of his output came in the final frame as they rallied from 15 points behind.
Along with his personal motivation, however, Alejandro was also playing for someone else. As he put it, “Gusto naming makita pa si Matt Salem na maglaro sa Final Four. We’re playing with a lot of inspiration for our captain Matt.”
He then continued, “I have to win it for captain Matt. Gusto namin siyang bigyan ng chance na makalaro. Ayaw namin na ga-graduate siya na hindi siya makakapaglaro.”
Both Alejandro and Salem are playing their last seasons in gold and blue. While the former is only continuing to impress, however, the latter has missed the last two games due to dengue.
Asked about his co-captain’s statement, Salem answered, “It’s just a blessing. We all care for each other, you know? When the coaches told me that (my teammate) want to do it for me, it really touched me.”
The sweet-shooting big man was out of action in NU’s previous games against Adamson University and De La Salle University – both losses.
He finally returned to action and played a little over a minute in their game against the Tamaraws. He missed the only shot he took.
For Salem, however, whatever he could have given the Bulldogs, he would have given whole-heartedly. “I message coach that if he needs me, I’ll be ready to play, I’m there for him, and I’m gonna do my best whether it’s a few minutes or the whole game. When I went in, I just wanted to do my role which was to shoot the ball,” he shared.
He then continued, “I shot it, but it wasn’t the best shot. Hopefully, that still inspired my teammates that even though I’m under this condition, I still gave 100 percent to the team.”
Clearly, the graduating forward inspired his teammates.
And in their biggest game of the season, a do-or-die matchup with the University of the Philippines on Saturday, he had one promise. “Saturday, I’ll be ready and prepared to play,” he expressed.
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