Jerom Lastimosa gets fitting UAAP farewell with Ateneo gesture
MANILA, Philippines — Seconds away from barging into the Final Four, the Ateneo Blue Eagles allowed Adamson star Jerom Lastimosa to have a final UAAP game to remember.
Ateneo’s Kyle Gamber gave up the ball to the graduating Adamson star, who then beat the buzzer with his last collegiate career three-pointer.
Lastimosa, who is nursing a full ACL tear in his left knee, surprisingly saw action in the playoff for No.4 and got an opportunity to represent his school one last time despite Adamson getting eliminated by Ateneo with a lopsided 70-48 loss on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin had nothing but good things to say about Lastimosa, who had a stellar five-year career in the UAAP and decided to stay with the Falcons this season despite the offers abroad and delaying his ACL injury to stay with his teammates until the end of their campaign.
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“I think Jerome has been a wonderful servant of UAAP basketball and Philippine basketball in general. And, you know, when you have a 20-point lead, who cares about three points, if we can make a gesture to a guy that maybe saying is iconic is a bit much but, currently, he’s iconic of outstanding players that the UAAP has generated,” said Baldwin after catching the last bus ride to the Final Four.
“If you can make a gesture, you know, we remember back to last year when Xavier [Lucero] was able to come in and you know, on a torn ACL and shoot free throws,” he added.
It was a moment to remember for Lastimosa, who finished with three points in two minutes and 17 seconds of action, as he received a round of applause from the 7,088 fans at MOA Arena.
“I won’t forget that moment because that’s my very last shot in the UAAP. It wasn’t supposed to happen because it was Ateneo’s ball,” said Lastimosa in Filipino.
The four-time UAAP champion coach was proud of his players’ gesture, letting Lastimosa cherish his moment before singing his alma mater and wearing his jersey for the last time.
“I think that actually shows respect for the game. Because these are these are people. Not unlike Nash, not unlike myself, not unlike the referees, who are true servants of the game. Our job is to serve the players. That’s our job is to make the playing experience fruitful, enjoyable, competitive, and fun,” said Baldwin. “It gave Jerom a moment that he might not otherwise have had in front of his fans. A salute as he rides off into the sunset, costs us nothing. And [we’re] more than happy to do that. And I was proud of my players to, you know, assist in that that moment.”
Ateneo moves on to the Final Four against the twice-to-beat University of the Philippines on Saturday, while Lastimosa will undergo surgery soon, focusing on his road to recovery.