MANILA, Philippines — In JD Cagulangan’s absence, Terrence Fortea rose to the occasion to give defending champion University of the Philippines’ a successful UAAP Season 85 debut.
The Fighting Maroons played without Cagulangan, who is their starting point guard and Finals Game 3 hero, due to a muscle issue.
But Fortea, who used to be a third-stringer last season, made the most of the opportunity given by head coach Goldwin Monteverde as he posted 15 points, nine assists, and five rebounds in UP’s 72-69 victory over La Salle on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“I accepted the challenge since JD didn’t play. I really wanted to help the team. I know that I am JD’s back-up, but that shouldn’t be a reason,” said Fortea in Filipino after shooting three three-pointers.
“When our brother can’t play, we should step up.”
Monteverde, Fortea’s coach since Nazareth School, was impressed with how his longtime player thrived as a point guard from playing shooting guard for the longest time.
“In NU, he’s more of a two. He is the scorer. Being a point guard is a bigger challenge because you will have to facilitate the offense rather than focusing on scoring,” the UP coach said. “I think from last season compared to this game, he has improved a lot. He embraced being a point guard. I’m sure he’s going to improve more.”
Fortea, who played off the bench, wanted to repay his coach’s trust.
“Coach Gold’s trust for me is there. So I just played my game, dishing out assists and trying to make my shots,” said the three-time UAAP juniors champion.
Fortea knows that there’s still a long way to go as UP eyes its second win against Adamson on Wednesday at PhilSports Arena.
But he was happy to help the Maroons fight for pride in another neck-and-neck duel against the Green Archers.
“I’m just happy that even we trailed earlier. We fought for the team’s pride. We showed that we really wanted to win the game,” Fortea said.
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