MANILA, Philippines — Aljon Mariano didn’t see action again after he injured his left ankle late midway the third quarter on Wednesday, but University of Santo Tomas’ forward dismissed it as a “normal sprain.”
“It’s just a normal sprain,” Mariano told reporters in Filipino after University of Santo Tomas suffered a stinging 67-68 setback to University of the East. “It’s a bit swollen so I wasn’t able to come back.”
With 5:04 left in the third quarter and UST in the lead, 47-41, Mariano hopped but his left foot landed on the tip of the shoes of Warriors’ center Charles Mammie.
Mariano fell to the floor, held on to his ankle and grimaced in pain as the Tigers’ coaching staff led by Pido Jarencio rush to his aid.
There was a surge of concern for Mariano as he could’ve reinjured his fractured foot which sidelined him for a season two years ago.
“It just stiffened up when I twisted it. But I felt better when I relaxed it,” added Mariano, who was seen with his foot immersed in ice at the bench for the rest of the game.
Even though it was the same ankle which he also sprained last summer, Mariano is certain he’ll be able to play in their next game.
That is nothing but good news for UST, which is reeling from the absence of top guard Jeric Teng.
“I’ll be able to play. I was just advised not to walk a lot so the swelling could subside,” he said.
They could’ve won the game even without him, Mariano said, but the Tigers were doomed by poor decision making and execution down the stretch.
“Coach [Pido Jarencio] told us that we didn’t play smart that’s why the opponents were able to get back at us,” Mariano said as the Warriors wiped away their 11-point lead in the fourth.
Mariano is hopeful that Teng’s return and the bond they would forge as the Tigers live together in the campus quarters can help them play better.
“We need to regroup and maybe when Jeric returns we’ll be able to play better,” he said.