Down by one and with 17 seconds remaining, San Sebastian College-Recoletos head coach Rodney Santos put the ball in the hands of his second-year guard.
Not go-to-guy Jamil Ortuoste. Not emerging Michael Calisaan. Not even steady Bradwyn Guinto. Instead it was five-foot six-inch Ryan Costelo the Golden Stags entrusted with the shot to upset league-leading Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Get the ball and drive.’ Sa kanya talaga ako pumunta,” Santos told ABS-CBN Sports.
Costelo went at the defense of the Knights and just found a small opening in between the outstretched arms of Rey Nambatac and Jom Sollano to launch a prayer. Fortunately for San Sebastian, the shot made its way to the bottom of the net and not too long after, proved to be the game-winner.
“Natuwa ako na nag-respond siya. Kumbaga, he lived up to the expectation,” Santos said about the relatively unknown player who upstaged Cruz and Nambatac who believe themselves to be the league’s best backcourt.
The Stags’ savior told ABS-CBN Sports that he did not expect the shot to fall in the right spot after just throwing the ball up there. “’Di ko talaga in-expect na masu-shoot yun. ‘Di talaga kasi binato ko lang pataas,” he said.
Asked what gave him, a second-year player, the confidence to take the big shot, Costelo answered, “Sakin binigay ni coach yung play kaya ayoko sirain yung tiwala ni coach.”
Santos shared that he is happy to finally give the tiny but talented guard the break he deserves. “Nakita ko yung potential niya last year kahit hindi pa siya masyado gamit dahil kay Jamil (Ortuoste),” he said.
He then continued, “Ngayon ang ginawa ko, dalawa na sila. They complement each other.”
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