Off a nifty feed from prized import Ben Mbala, La Salle big man Abu Tratter found himself free for an easy lay-up, only to fumble the leather on his way up.
Then the 6-foot-5 Tratter, hardly getting his acts together, was the recipient of a quick outlet pass from veteran Green Archers guard Kib Montalbo but failed to gain control of the ball, leading to another turnover as Adamson sued for time.
Tratter, with his head down, walked back to La Salle bench in dismay but coach Aldin Ayo immediately stormed to the floor, giving his ward a big hug.
Then Ayo, keeping his confidence on Tratter, drew up a play for La Salle’s Fil-Am center and boy did he deliver.
“That gave me confidence because at some point, I was down and doubts were coming in,” said Tratter, recalling the dramatic scene with Ayo that served as one of the highlights in the Green Archers’ 91-75 victory over the Soaring Falcons on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
While he struggled from the field, scoring just six points in nine attempts on top of eight rebounds, Tratter was pleased that he was able to redeem himself when he scored against Adamson defender Dawn Ochea off a play personally called by Ayo.
“When coach calls a specific play for you, it was encouraging. As a coach, you tend to have some doubts. But there’s no point I felt that coach had doubts on me. He kinda gave me courage at that point so I felt relieved. He really strives to make me be confident,” he stressed.
Ayo admitted it’s really part of his responsibilities to keep his charges confident.
“Kung sino ang nasa baba, ‘yun ang pupulutin namin. Every time my player commits a mistake, kailangan maipakita ko sa kanya na special siya,” he said.
“Abu’s very down. Buti nalang nagkaron ng deadball, I was able to tell Abu that next time, next play, we’re going to you. And he delivers, he delivers, he delivers.”
Having a great motivator like Ayo, Tratter couldn’t be more grateful.
“The first guy up to the last guy on the bench, he’s going to do that. He makes sure everybody has that courage to come back in the game. He’s a godly person. Everything he does is humble,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad