The NU Bulldogs had a golden opportunity to put an end to their losing streak against the UP Fighting Maroons on Sunday.
With NU down by one in the last 7.6 seconds, JV Gallego drove to the hoop but decided to kick out to Dave Ildefonso instead of going for a shot. The time expired as soon as the ball left Gallego's hands, handing the 89-88 victory to the Fighting Maroons.
"If there was a half-second left, I knew that Dave will get that shot. Maybe we could've won the game," shared Gallego. "They just told me to get the ball and attack, then if the defense collapse, just kick it out. I was open but I also saw Dave open."
As the buzzer sounded, Gallego immediately realized his costly error so he slumped on the floor in disappointment. His teammates picked him up, comforted him, and told him to put his head up.
"Right after the buzzer, you saw that all of them approached me because I was about to cry," Gallego admitted. "But they were there especially Issa [Gaye] and Dave Yu, our captain ball. They were a huge help for me."
Towards the end of the first half, Gallego also committed a blunder when he went out of bounds after receiving an inbound pass from Shaun Ildefonso. This led to an easy layup for Juan Gomez De Liaño that put UP on top by seven at halftime.
But save for those pair of crucial turnovers, Gallego was productive off the bench. He registered 13 points, four assists, and three rebounds in less than 19 minutes of play.
"I needed to step up because our starting point guard, Enzo, was having an off day. Every time coach fields me in, I just need to be ready. Through God's help, I was able to perform well," he said.
NU coach Jamike Jarin refused to put the blame on Gallego or any of his players. "I just told him, 'Hey why are you putting your head down?' You think I'm gonna get mad at that? No, I never get mad. I never get mad with those plays because it was a judgment on his part," he said.
"He saw that Dave was free and he had a chance to win it, but hey, all of us make mistakes," Jarin went on. "That's part of the growth of everybody. That's why you're here to mentor these young men."
It was an extremely frustrating moment for Gallego, but he's ready to move on from his mistakes, thanks to the encouragement of his coaches and teammates.
"Maybe I just need to be aware of the time and be mature," he said. "Hopefully in the next games, I'll be more composed."