Given the green light to shoot by Arellano U coach Jerry Codiñera and his teammates, backup guard Donald Gumaru heeded the call and made his 24th birthday a memorable one.
The 5-foot-11 Gumaru waxed hot from beyond the arc in the second half as Arellano U outgunned Mapua 95-82 and securing the first twice-to-beat edge in the Final Four in the process in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
After missing his first three attempts in the first half, Gumaru drilled in five triples after the turn, the last two sparking a decisive 21-7 push that allowed the Chiefs to recover their bearings and pull away from the Cardinals.
“Sabi ni coach at ng mga teammates ko, tumira lang ako ng tumira. Ginawa ko lang ‘yung best ko at kung ano ‘yung sinabi nila,” said Gumaru, who teamed up with star playmaker Jiovani Jalalon during Arellano U’s blinding finish.
The 5-foot-10 Jalalon, who had his own scoring explosion with a personal season-best of 35 points, admitted he’s thrilled to see Gumaru rise to the challenge.
“Nagpapasalamat kami kay Donald kasi nag-step up talaga siya. Sobrang halaga nu’n para sa amin kasi siya ‘yung third guard namin,” stressed Jalalon, who laced his scoring burst with five rebounds, five assists and five steals against just three errors in 33 minutes of play.
Codiñera said he’s hardly surprised to see Gumaru come up with his finest performance this season so far.
“He’s been playing well for the past three games. Hesitant lang talaga nu’ng first round,” he said.
While he’s visibly satisfied with his latest exploits, Gumaru said he intends to give the Chiefs more production as he sets his sights for the ultimate prize on his final year.
“Last year ko na ngayon kaya kailangan ibigay ko na ang best ko hanggang matapos ang season. Gusto rin namin makapasok sa finals kaya nagtutulungan kami at ibibigay ang best namin every game,” he said. – Jerome Lagunzad
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