La Salle’s Schonny Winston. –UAAP PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines — Schonny Winston felt great to return to the court despite seeing action only for four seconds in La Salle’s 63-58 victory over the No.2 seed National University in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Winston, wearing a Jordan 1 Shattered Backboard, checked in the last four seconds of the opening period to end his four-game absence due to a calf injury.
“It was just to get my feet wet to try to slowly integrate me back into the coach’s system. Just anything to help, support the team, get a feel of putting on the jersey on and playing in the arena again. When I really full blast come back, it’s gradual. It felt good,” said Winston said after the win.
“When I’m out there, it felt good. That’s all I can say. We’ll just take it day-by-day and gradually just incorporate more and more. That’s the process,” he added.
La Salle coach Derick Pumaren said the Filipino-American guard’s cameo was just to give him a court feel.
“We just tried to make him feel. As I’ve said he’s a game time decision and I just want him to feel so when the time comes that he will play then he knows the feeling because he’s been out for four games,” he said.
NOT FOR MVP BID
The MVP front-runner in the first round, who averaged 21.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 3.0 steals before being sidelined, said his very short playing time wasn’t intended to salvage his bid for the top honor as he already can’t miss a game to avoid disqualification.
His main focus is to lead La Salle, which currently holds the fourth seed with a 6-6 record, to the Final Four and eventually in the championship in his final UAAP season.
“It’s just whatever it takes to win. The MVP is something like on the side that will come along but really, it’s all about winning and help the team win. That’s my main priority: the Final Four and the championship game,” Winston said.
Winston said he is still working his way to reach his full recovery in time for the crucial stage of the tournament.