MANILA, Philippines – Isaac Go was very nearly the hero for Ateneo de Manila University on Sunday.
With Ateneo trailing by a single point against De La Salle University with 12.6 seconds left, Go freed himself up from Abu Tratter’s defense and got himself wide open near the basket. He received the inbound pass from Anton Asistio, and was free for the bucket that could have given the Blue Eagles the lead.
But La Salle star Ben Mbala recovered quickly enough to bother him, and Go did one pump fake before attempting a hook shot that went short. Ricci Rivero collared the rebound, and Go could do nothing but foul the guard, sending him to the line.
“I’m still trying to replay in my mind what I could have done,” Go admitted after the game.
A despondent Go could only fall into the arms of Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga, having blown a golden opportunity for the Blue Eagles. La Salle went on to claim a 79-76 victory, denying Ateneo a sweep of the UAAP Season 80 elimination round.
Go acknowledged that his display of emotion afterward is a sign of his immaturity as a player, as he was unable to immediately move on and focus on the next play.
“Veteran players will just shake it off,” he noted. “But I think emotion overcame (me). I still held on to the past, I wasn’t focusing on the next play or the next game.”
“Coach Tab (Baldwin) has really been preaching that we want to have no emotion, that ‘next play’ mentality,” he added. “Because if you hold on to that, that holds you.”
For Go, what happened in the closing seconds of their game against La Salle only showed that he has plenty of room to grow. Indeed, Arespacochaga told him to “keep your head up” after his mistake, but he still found himself dwelling on it.
“I think that’s where my immaturity still comes in,” he said. “I’m a young player.”
“But that can’t be the excuse,” Go said. “If you let emotion overcome you, you don’t think, you just act. That is something that I still have to learn.”
In the end, Go said he did not regret what happened, believing that it was “the best basketball play I could have done at the moment.” Moreover, he showed that he was nothing if not a quick learner, as he is quickly moving on from the loss and shrugging off their failure to complete the sweep.
“It’s nice, of course, to have a 14-0 sweep,” he said. “But we’re just looking at the next game.”
“The most important game is the next game.”
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