UAAP 82: Neil Tolentino just showed La Salle what it let go a year ago
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 14, 2019 05:54 PM
(Photo by Arvin Lim)
Right after the final buzzer sounded in University of the East's breakthrough win at the expense of De La Salle University, Saturday at MOA Arena, Neil Tolentino got teary-eyed.
Of course, the first-year player had just played the game of his life as he totaled 19 points in efficient 8-of-11 shooting from the field.
And of course, his career game eventually ended as the Red Warriors first win in the tournament.
More than that, though, the game and its decision had much more meaning for Tolentino. "Alam ko kasing kaya naming manalo tapos ako rin, may hugot talaga ako sa game. Alam niyo naman, galing ako sa La Salle," he shared post-game.
He then continued, "Nagpapasalamat talaga ako kasi 0-3 nga kami tapos La Salle pa tinalo namin."
After a strong stint for the championship teams of Nazareth School of National University and the return to relevance of Colegio de San Juan de Letran in the Jrs., the 6-foot-1 guard first committed to play for the Green Archers.
There, he suited up for the green and white in the 2018 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament.
Just a month before he was set to debut for La Salle in last season's UAAP, however, he failed to make the cut for the final roster.
A year later, Tolentino was one of the weapons of UE, alongside Rey Suerte, that took down the Green Archers.
"May hugot talaga ako kasi former La Salle ako. 'Di ako napansin dun so ngayon, gusto ko ipakita na ito ako, kaya ko," he said. "Naiiyak ako sa game kasi gusto ko talaga manalo sa kanila, gusto ko ipakita sa kanilang 'di ako basta-basta. Ngayon, gusto kong makabawi talaga."
The now 21-year-old did that and more, going all-out in 28 and a half minutes all while making his presence felt at both ends.
Of course, up against La Salle, the well he's drawing from is as deep as they come. "Sa akin, naging motivation ko yun para lalo kong galingan," he said.
In the end, Tolentino is the happiest for having found a home in UE. "Actually, naramdaman ko na talaga yun sa training pa lang - ginagamit ako, pero nag-iba na so nung maka-cut na nga ako, nag-decide akong maghanap ng ibang school. Yun, nahanap ko ang UE na tinanggap ako nang buo," he said.
He then continued, "Kaya ngayon, kung anong matutulong ko sa kanila, binibigay ko lang."
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