(Photo by Jamil Buergo/ Sports Gateway PH)
“Hindi ko alam e,” bared a visibly disappointed Louie Vigil, unsure of what to say or what to do.
The UST Growling Tigers’ team captain just played his last game in the UAAP– a loss to the Ateneo Blue Eagles. With hopes of ending the season on a positive note with a win, Vigil led the Tigers in scoring with 14 points but fouled out with two minutes remaining in the game– an anticlimactic and disappointing ending to what he envisioned to be a promising season.
Before the start of their UAAP campaign, the 6-foot-1 versatile gunner was already contemplating on turning professional but the allure of continuing a winning tradition in UST brought him back.
“‘Yun naman talaga goal ko kaya ako nag-laro this season– para makabalik sa Final Four.”
However, heading into Vigil’s final year, adversities already plagued the Growling Tigers. To start off, the team controversially lost most of its coaching staff and then, with a few weeks remaining before the opening of the season, eligibility issues troubled Vigil and his fellow graduating teammate, Jon Sheriff.
“Emotionally, whirlwind talaga e. Kung ano-ano nalang na issue na nararamdaman (namin) e,” Vigil shared. “Nagkataon lang na nag-karon ng problema before the season. Si Sheriff nga rin, day before the opening sinabi na di siya maglalaro e. So physically and mentally exhausting.”
Vigil’s Tigers started decent with a 2-2 record to begin their UAAP campaign but key injuries, inexperience and inconsistency from its core players resulted in a five-game losing streak that doomed their season.
“Parang tinatanong ko sarili ko kung nagawa ko na lahat … There’s something in me na parang hindi ko nabigay lahat para sa UST community and meron ‘ding little piece of me na sinabing, ‘Okay na, tama na nagawa mo na lahat.’
“Siyempre hindi ako kontento kasi ‘di kami nakapasok (sa Final Four) e. Me, personally ‘di ako kontento,” he emphasized.
Now, with his college career behind him, Vigil is now looking at his options in the PBA D-League or in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
“Siguro ngayon, recover muna ng katawan. Siyempre may mga nararamdaman din akong minor injuries. Siguro quick pahinga then let’s see. Di ko pa alam e, feeling ko ABL e,” he said, also mentioning the possibility that he might go back to his old team, the Tanduay Rhum Masters in the D-League.
Even with his sights set on the professional ranks though, Vigil maintains that UST will never be far from his sights. “I’m always ready, ready lang ako lagi maka-tulong sa team.”
He also left the team with pieces of advice. “Lagi ko sinasabi sa kanila na itanim nila sa puso’t isipan nila ‘yung nangyari ngayon para mag-karon ng fuel, extra fuel for them to be ready next year. I’m confident na alam na nila yung dapat na gawin especially in the fourth quarter kasi dun nagka-karon ng lapses e. May mga games na nakaka-dikit kami tapos konting run lang ng kalaban sumusuko na.
“Sana may natutunan sa season na ‘to, not just heartbreaks lang but also learnings.”
In the aftermath of Louie Vigil’s last game with UST, he had a number of things he wasn’t sure about. However, there is one thing that he is absolutely sure of:
“Im rooting for them next year. They’ll be better for sure in terms of the standing.”