Matt Nieto was down on the floor right before the end of the first half.
And he was bleeding bad.
Recipient of a hit from the left elbow of Cameroonian powerhouse Ben Mbala late in the second quarter, Nieto got a huge cut above his left eye. Asked about the incident, the latter answered, “Siguro? I don’t know. Siguro, he’s just too tall so sakto yung elbow niya sa face ko.”
Even with that huge cut, Ateneo de Manila University’s point guard soldiered on and was back on the court in the third quarter. “Actually, hindi ko na masyado naramdaman ‘cause of the adrenaline. I didn’t know there was blood kasi credit to (Dr. Raul) Canlas for stopping the blood,” he told reporters.
Indeed, Nieto was his usual two-way force and totaled 11 points and three assists to help his team to a 76-70 win.
Without a doubt, there was no way the 19-year-old was missing the second half of the Blue Eagles’ most important game in the season. “I don’t want to let the team down, ayoko mawala sa laro so gusto ko agad bumalik the moment that happened, but they had to stop the blood. Worth it naman lahat ‘cause we got the win,” he shared.
If given the chance to replay what happened, he said he was going to do the exact same thing. “I was really expecting the spin and I’m gonna sacrifice my face, even my body just to get the possession for us because that possession will win us the game,” he said.
In the end, Nieto proved to be a big part of Ateneo’s big-time win. And come Game 2, he is determined to do it all again.
Even if it’s still uncertain if he will need stitches. “Sana po wala kasi hindi naman po ganoon kalaki yung cut. Pero kahit anong mangyari, maglalaro ako,” he expressed.
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