ADAMSON University may have bowed out of the race but the proud school still gave its injured son Jerom Lastimosa a fitting swan song to his remarkable collegiate career.
Albeit nursing an ACL injury that cut short his final playing year, Mr. Lastimosa suited up and had his well-deserved moment in the final two minutes highlighted by a poetic triple at the buzzer made possible by Ateneo de Manila University’s gesture, with the possession, to hand him the game ball in the homestretch.
Limping and all, Mr. Lastimosa — who was already inserted in the game by coach Nash Racela in the first half — missed his first three attempts before witnessing his last try go in as the crowd, including Ateneo fans, erupted in euphoria.
The Soaring Falcons succumbed to the Blue Eagles, 70-48, in the playoff for the last seat in the UAAP Season 86 Final Four, signaling the end to their commendable run — and Mr. Lastimosa’s.
“We just wanted to field in Jerom (Lastimosa) and our seniors. So regardless of the score, we wanted the Adamson community to see them one last time before they leave the university,” said Mr. Racela, also referring to Jed Colonia, Vince and Wilfrey Magbuhos.
For Mr. Lastimosa, him braving on through a gruesome injury for a final act was only his way of paying it back to the Adamson community, including all the UAAP schools which had embraced him as an unheralded kid from Dumaguete through the years.
In fact, Mr. Lastimosa delayed his surgery since sustaining the injury at the start of the second round to be with the Soaring Falcons until the last match as they made a valiant Final Four stand up to the end.
Adamson made its last Final Four appearance in Mr. Lastimosa’s first year back in Season 81, when he was still a backup point guard. Last year with him at the helm, he steered the Soaring Falcons back to the semis with a string of clutch performances to rise as the UAAP PSBankable Player of the Year capped by a knockout win over De La Salle University.
He may be signing off but an ACL injury could not dent Mr. Lastimosa’s Adamson legacy, paired with a Southeast Asian Games gold medalist with Gilas Pilipinas, up to the extent that he had his No. 7 jersey retired midseason — all while shunning multiple overseas offers to stay with the Soaring Falcons.
“He chose to stay with Adamson this year. Despite his injury, he still chose to play for Adamson. Other people don’t see that as something admirable, but it is something that we really appreciate, not just us, but the whole Adamson community,” beamed Mr. Racela. — John Bryan Ulanday