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UST’s Mariano set to put 2013 finals ‘nightmare’ behind him

Aljon Mariano is ready to put his nightmarish performance in last year’s finals behind him as he leads University of Santo Tomas’ (UST) bid to finally capture the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) crown after two unsuccessful tries.

Mariano was heavily criticized in the aftermath of the Growling Tigers’ heartbreaking loss to the La Salle Green Archers in Game 3 after he threw the ball out of bounds while his team was ahead by a point with less than 30 seconds left in overtime.

His miscue set up an Almond Vosotros jumper that gave La Salle the lead. The Green Archers went on to win, 71-68, denying the Tigers a chance to rebound from their 2012 title loss to Ateneo.

The defeat left emotional scars on Mariano, who was also nursing an injured left ankle during the series. But the 21-year-old has vowed to redeem himself from that painful experience.

“Siyempre sa ganung sitwasyon marami kang matututunan at sa failure dun ka magma-mature,” said Mariano, who will enter his final year of eligibility.

“Siguro nung championship na yun, mas hungry ang kalaban namin kaya hindi namin nakuha. Kaya ginawa naming motivation yun na twice na kami nandun (sa finals), siguro enough na yun.”

Mariano has also been named team captain of the squad that will try to make a finals comeback despite the departures of Jeric Teng to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and coach Pido Jarencio who is now the head man of Globalport.

Replacing Jarencio is Bong dela Cruz, who was an assistant for two seasons beginning in 2012. The former Tiger Cub is confident that Mariano can rise to the challenge.