NCAA: Levi Dela Cruz’s 'big heart' causes heartbreak for Baste

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 27, 2018 06:17 PM
NCAA: Dela Cruz’s 'big heart' causes heartbreak for Baste
Levi Dela Cruz took charge and took the shot that took down favored San Sebastian

It was a terrible day from the free throw line for San Sebastian College-Recoletos on Friday, but JM Calma’s split from the stripe still granted them a two-point edge over Arellano University.

Still, 14.2 ticks were on the clock and Levi Dela Cruz was not letting the Chiefs go down that easily.

The Golden Stags were up, 81-79, in the dying moments of the extra period until Arellano’s lead guard got the ball and decided to launch a triple try over the outstretched arms of both Arjan Dela Cruz and Michael Are.

The ball proceeded to graze the back of the rim before falling to the bottom of the net.

Baste still had 4.2 seconds to make something happen, but Dela Cruz intercepted Alvin Capobres’ inbound pass to Dela Cruz to finish off the Chiefs’ return to the win column now at 2-1.

Of course, head coach Jerry Codinera gave credit where credit is due. “Si Levi, he has a big heart. He’s a make or break kid and that was a desperate shot. Yun nay un,” he told reporters post-game.

He then continued, “Talagang he doesn’t back down from an opportunity.”

Indeed, even though he was scoreless in three quarters, the second-year guard still came through in the endgame – scoring seven points in the final frame and then hitting the game-winner in overtime. “Masyado akong gigil nung mga unang quarter kaya masama laro ko. Sabi ko, bawi na lang ako kapag binunot ako ni coach Jerry ulit,” he shared.

He then continued, “Bawi ako sa depensa kasi sa opensa, walang pumapasok talaga. Buti ayun, nakakuha rin ng last minute tapos last second, na-steal ko.”

This wasn’t the first time in the season that Dela Cruz won a game for the Chiefs. In their first win of the season, also in overtime, he scored his team’s last seven points.

And today, he was the tip of the upset ax that felled favored San Sebastian.

Still, coach Jerry is challenging him to keep on improving. “He’s a strong kid, malakas ang katawan, but he just has to learn a lot of things as a point guard. He also needs more consistency,” he said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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