A career game gone For naught
Had it not been for Ateneo’s sensational performance in the opening game of UAAP Season 82’s title series last Saturday, Game 1 could easily go down as University of Santo Tomas rookie Mark Nonoy’s signature game.
Hardly daunted by the pressure that comes in a championship game, Nonoy delivered his finest performance yet with a career-best 26 points spiked by seven triples, an effort which wasn’t rewarded with a win as the Blue Eagles still ran away with an authoritative 91-77 victory over the Growling Tigers to move on the verge of their third straight crown and a perfect season.
Nonoy’s stellar game did not go unnoticed with Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin immediately pointing at the point guard from La Carlota City, Negros Occidental, as the man to watch when the two teams meet again in Game 2 on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“Mark Nonoy is obviously a problem for us,” said Baldwin. “He played a tremendous game. He ran himself to the ground. He was dead at the end of the game. That’s very courageous and he got a lot of respect for that.”
Whether it was off the dribble or receiving passes in rhythm, Nonoy kept knocking down threes in the first half, allowing the Tigers to stay within striking distance, before another big Ateneo run finally took the sting out of UST’s attack.
UST coach Aldin Ayo said Nonoy always had the green light to shoot, more so when his teammates are struggling just like in Game 1.
Nonoy got going in the second period, using his speed to get to his sweet spots, before burying one triple after another.
His fifth trey of the period allowed the Tigers to trim an early 16-point deficit to just three points, 38-41, with three minutes remaining in the first half.
“He was unconscious again, but the thing is, we’re allowing him to do that,” said Ayo. “But we also see his desire to be a playmaker. So he has to take those shots when he’s open.”
An emotional Nonoy broke down when the final horn sounded before an estimated crowd of 19,100 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I was trying my best because our first group was having problems so we needed to really step up,” said Nonoy in Filipino. “It’s a tough loss to take, but we will bounce back in Game 2.”
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