MANILA, Philippines — Give him enough time, even just an inch of space, and the responsibility to carry his squad, trust University of the East’s Roi Sumang to take — and make — the biggest shot of the night.
He asked center Charles Mammie to set a pick at the three point line, then dribbled quickly to the left.
Sumang, being the sly guard that he is, has the guts to either drive furiously to the rim, or launch a shot right then and there with the game on the line.
Sumang opted to leave lasting impression: that he wasn’t scared of anyone — not even the league’s best player for the last two years.
He unleashed a triple from deep, leaving his defender — National University’s best player and two-time MVP Bobby Parks — scrambling to put his hand up for any form of distraction.
Swish. Plus the foul with 3.7 seconds left to play. Sumang calmy sank the freebie, completing the rare game-winning, four-point play. The Warriors clipped the Bulldogs, 71-67.
It played out exactly how Sumang wanted it to be — he taking the winning into his own hands.
Sumang knew how hard it was to stare at their final four hopes down from the cellar, and he wasn’t going to let his Warriors fall back into those bad habits, and a 0-2 hole.
“Hiningi ko talaga kay coach yung bola,” said Sumang after the Warriors’ 74-70 win over the Bulldogs. “Sinabi ko naman ayaw ko na talagang matalo eh. Sawang sawa na ako.”
And Parks’ body on him — bulkier and lankier — down the stretch proved to be just another challenge he couldn’t wait to hurdle.
“Ang laki niya eh. Ang hirap dahil ang bilis niya gumalaw. Buti nung second half maganda ginawa ko,” he said of having Parks as a defender.
That show capped Sumang’s game-long brilliance, and UE head coach Boyzie Zamar put it best, “feeling ko yung tira na yun is something like redemption for us.”
And as the Red Warriors seek a different outcome to their season, expect that to be just one of Sumang’s herioc acts.