May 25, 2024

Find out what Lucero was thinking as he was taking his final shot in the UAAP

Find out what Lucero was thinking as he was taking his final shot in the UAAP


UP had to let go of the UAAP Men's Basketball crown after only half a calendar year, as Ateneo wrestled it away from them in the best-of-three finale that went the distance.

 

Some of the Fighting Maroons faithful, through no fault of their own, still wonder what if Zavier Lucero did not injure his knee? What if Zav played all throughout the Finals?

 

Perhaps it's better not to go that road. It's painful enough to lose the title, but seeing Lucero fall down in Game 2 of the series against the Blue Eagles hits different.

 

Like a bull charging the matador, Lucero drove aggressively from the left wing hoping to get a bucket. Before he knew it, he was down on parquet the floor of the Smart Araneta Coliseum, clutching his left knee and grimacing in pain.


“Obviously it was a drive I do every single game. You just never expect a serious injury to happen to you until it does, right? I just figured my knee shifted in a weird way,” Lucero said in an interview with Diego Dario on The Game. 


Tragic as this may all seem, at least Lucero still got to end a decorated collegiate career on his own terms. 


The Season 84 Mythical Five member was given a fitting sendoff in Game Three after Ateneo players celebrated their impending win prematurely and rushed the court with still 0.7 ticks remaining on the clock. Lucero checked in to shoot the technical free throw as the sea of blue and maroon applauded.  


When he was finally on the line, he felt pressure as though victory depended on that free throw. 


“I was like getting chills from the crowd but mostly I was 'I gotta make this' cause it would be really anticlimactic if I missed,” he recalled with a big smile. 


“We lost but if you watched the clip I was just smiling because I got to leave on my own terms. Because I didn’t like leaving on an injury. Plan was to check in one more time and to be honest I’m really happy that Ateneo rushed the court because I wasn’t gonna get that chance.” 


He added, “For me, to be able to get my flowers so to speak and be able to be out there with the UP community one more time is a special moment for me.”

 

After all, this Fighting Maroons community rallied behind him since he donned their jersey. 


#ZavTheDate trended on social media in the days leading up to the winner-take-all Game Three. On game day, his teammates wore warm up shirts with “ZAV” emblazoned on the front and his surname and jersey number on the back. 


It was a gesture he deeply appreciated.


“My heart was full just because of the outpouring of love that I was getting. You don’t expect to be embraced like this coming out here and going through what I did,” he said. “For me the team wearing shirts and the people, all the fans kind of getting behind me is definitely something I won’t forget.”