It was supposed to be a grand exit for Clint Escamis in this season’s NCAA Juniors’ cage wars
With Season 93 Juniors Most Valuable Player Will Gozum and Mythical Five member Warren Bonifacio graduating, this was Clint’s moment to shine for the Mapua Red Robins.
Even with the hole left by the two, Mapua had a solid chance at nabbing the title with the young playmaker taking charge.
And he did live up to the billing. Flashing an all-around game reminiscent of when former league MVP and King Cardinal Kelvin Dela Peña dominated the seniors level before. Clint was on his way to finishing his final year of HS basketball on a high note after averaging almost 18 points, five boards and three dimes per game. He led Mapua to a 14-4 slate, good for second place at the end of the eliminations.
From there, the script of his prep career seemed to be a done deal. Become part of the Mythical 5. Carry the team to the Finals. Be crowned a champion again.
Yet fate had other plans. While he was able to suit up in the playoffs, Clint wasn’t at his 100% best because of a lingering injury. Rather than risk his health down the road, the coaching staff decided to shut him down in the final two games of the championship series.
Although this was a blow to the Red Robins’ campaign, the team used this as a rallying point in dethroning LSGH to win the championship. His morale may have been down after being sidelined, but Clint never doubted his team’s ability to withstand the odds.
“One factor in my injury ay nagimprove ang teammates ko. Nagkaroon ng kumpiyansa. May tiwala ako sa teammates ko na even without me, kaya nilang magchampion. I gave them the boost na kailangan nilang mag step up,” said Clint.
“Sobrang low ‘yung morale ko dahil sa ACL injury ko. Alam ko na malala na kaso nilaro ko pa rin since last season ko na. Kaya kinaya ko para sa kanila,” he added.
It may not be the storybook finish that Clint may have wanted, but hoisting the championship in the end was all worth it.
“Worth it naman ‘yung pagkapanalo ng championship. Sinabi rin ni coach Randy (Alcantara) na gawin natin ito para kay Clint. Nagspeech rin ako sa kanila na ibigay nyo ang championship na ito sa akin kasi sobrang grabe ‘yung pinagdaanan ko para sa team and they were able to do it. I felt so blessed.” said Clint.
While his injury has kept him from starting a new chapter, the 5’11” guard is optimistic in being part of the Cardinals’ future. It also helps that a familiar face is there to guide him in the process.
“I am looking forward to it. Part na ako ng seniors kaso hindi ako aabot just in time for Season 94. Kaya sabi ni coach Randy ay mas sure na kaysa minabilis. Kaya shelved muna ako for one year. So I’ll spend the time improving myself, get my confidence back in playing basketball,” said Clint.
The SLAM Rising Stars Classic will be held on March 31, 7PM to 9PM, at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong. The game will be aired on ABS-CBN Sports via livestream.