MANILA, Philippines — Kevin Ferrer has felt the pain of losing in the UAAP Finals not once, not twice, but 3 times – including one last blow to close his collegiate career.
Despite that, the lanky team captain of the UST Growling Tigers has no regrets.
"Basta ginawa ko yung best ko. Pinaglaban ko yung UST. Kung ano man yung result, okay na ako doon (I did my best. I fought for UST. Whatever the result, I'm okay with it)," said Ferrer, speaking quietly amid the roar of fans who waited for him and the Tigers outside the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, December 2.
Ferrer finished his 5-year UAAP career without a title after UST fell to the FEU Tamaraws in Game 3, 67-62, to settle as runner-up once again in the UAAP Season 78 men's basketball tournament.
This is the third time in 4 years the Tigers came up short in the finals, losing to the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the DLSU Green Archers in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Ferrer was part of those two teams as well.
Although he stumbled several times throughout his time in UST, Ferrer is hopeful about his future.
"Yun talaga e. Yun na yung best (na kaya) e. Sa tingin ko kulang pa yung nagawa ko pero hindi pa naman tapos yung journey ko e," said Ferrer as he looked around him and appreciated the outpouring of support from fans who looked happy still instead of disappointed from the defeat.
"Hindi naman matatapos dito yung career ko e. Lahat ng mistakes ko i-improve ko."
(That's really it. That's the best I can do. I think I did not do enough but my journey is not yet over. My career will not end here. I will improve on all of my mistakes."
The 22-year-old Gilas cadet and this season's Mythical 5 member was responsible for forcing the finals series to go the distance with his 29-point Game 2 performance built on a 24-point third quarter where he buried 6 triples.
But the Tamaraws made sure there would not be a repeat explosion as they shackled Ferrer to just 6 points and 5 rebounds in Game 3. Ferrer attempted only 7 field goals and made just two of them.
UST took the lead midway in the payoff period until Roger Pogoy knocked down the go-ahead triple and Mike Tolomia made a lay-up to claim the lead for good, 63-60, with 1:01 left to play.
UST falls short anew. Kevin Ferrer in tears as he graduates without a seniors UAAP title @rapplerdotcom #UAAPFinals pic.twitter.com/a9zRxN4dr5 — Jane Bracher (@janebracher) December 2, 2015
Ed Daquioag later committed a costly turnover and FEU came away with its first title in a decade, leaving UST heartbroken once again.
"Sobrang emotional kasi last year ko na 'to," Ferrer tried to describe how he felt after the final buzzer as he broke down in tears on the court.
"Basta nag thank you ako. Nag-remind ako sa mga matitira na ipaglaban talaga nila yung pride ng UST," Ferrer shared what he told his teammates whom he huddled up amid the celebration.
(I was very emotional because this is my last year already. I just told them thank you. I reminded those who will still play next year to keep on fighting for the pride of UST.)
Growling Tigers huddle in tears @rapplerdotcom #UAAPFinals pic.twitter.com/qTCh20C2qp — Jane Bracher (@janebracher) December 2, 2015
Ferrer and the rest of the team understandably hung their heads as they left the locker room but appreciatively looked up as they exited the arena where UST's drummers and fans cheered them on.
Kevin Ferrer & the rest of the UST Growling Tigers are greeted by the drums of the @TheUSTYJ and fans @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/EIraDbhCGe — Jane Bracher (@janebracher) December 2, 2015
Ferrer soaked in choruses of "M-V-P!" and chants of the hair-raising "Go USTe!" cheer. He forced smiles for photos at first, but eventually flashed a genuine grin as he held cellphone after cellphone for selfies.
He feebly waved a school flag handed to him then was soon engulfed in group hugs. With that, Ferrer still looked heartbroken from the loss, but no longer defeated.
Kevin Ferrer waves the UST flag as fans flock for photos with him. @rapplerdotcom #UAAPFinals pic.twitter.com/IS793Z7e2T — Jane Bracher (@janebracher) December 2, 2015
"Basta ginawa namin yung best namin. Kung ano talaga yung destiny namin, okay na kami doon. Wala naman kaming question kay God. Yun yung plan talaga ni God sa amin (We just did our best. Whatever our destiny is, we're okay with that. We don't question God. This is God's plan for us)," he said as more fans crowded around him for photos and he was made to wear a makeshift golden crown.
"Ngayon ine-enjoy ko na lang (I am just enjoying this now)." — Rappler.com