La Salle gunner Andrei Caracut has finally brushed off what many considers a “sophomore jinx.”
The league’s reigning Rookie of the Year awardee, the 5-foot-11 Caracut displayed his outside shooting prowess in time as the Green Archers overcame University of the East on Wednesday night 84-78 to keep its unbeaten start going in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A non-factor in the opening half, Caracut rediscovered his deadly form in the stretch as he fired all of his nine points, spiked by a pair of triples, in the final frame, mainly teaming up with veteran big man Prince Rivero in the Green Archers’ decisive breakaway.
While he appears to have found his offensive rhythm back, the former San Beda Red Cub star said it’s now a matter of doing it consistently.
“You’re only good as your last game. After ng game na ‘to, wala na ‘yun,” he said. “Kailangan mag-prepare na for the next game.”
Caracut’s fourth-quarter explosion proved timely for the Green Archers, who played without ejected coach Aldin Ayo in the second half and nearly blew a double-digit lead in the face of the Red Warriors’ determined fightback.
“Noong nawala si coach Aldin, parang nag-iba,” Caracut stressed. “So kailangan naming mag-step up.”
And he did, with his second made triple—at the top of the key—proving to be the dagger as the Green Archers restored their lead back to seven at 81-74 with 61 seconds remaining.
“Sa akin naman, wino-work ko talaga ‘yun. May shot chart kami, siyempre nagpa-practice din kami so parang, pareho lang ang ginagawa ko. Nabigyan lang din ako ng chance, so binigay ko ‘yung best ko,” said Caracut.
While they are facing the specter of playing without Ayo in La Salle’s anticipated showdown with Ateneo this Sunday, Caracut remains confident that they can get the job done so long as they prepare well and execute better collectively.
“Confident naman kami about sa game namin sa Sunday. Kailangan lang talaga, paghandaan namin. Siguro wala namang magiging problema kung sama-sama pa rin kami,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad