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Humble Bolick deflects credit

ROBERT Bolick (left) shares the MVP honors with Japeth Aguilar after helping Team Mark forge a 140-140 draw with Team Japeth in the PBA All-Star Game. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA

Robert Bolick delivered down the stretch to win the Most Valuable Player award after helping Team Mark forge a 140-140 deadlock with Team Japeth in the All-Star Game of the Philippine Basketball Association late Sunday at the University of St. La Salle Gym in Bacolod City.

But for Bolick, the prestige wasn’t supposed for him.

“It’s supposed to go to CJ (Perez) after he scored 39 points,” said Bolick in Filipino shortly after the game that put fans inside the packed coliseum at the edge of their seats.

“At first, I felt that I wasn’t built for the All-Star Game. I was having a bad game. Even last year, I was struggling to make shots. It is just probably the will of the Lord.”

Still, Bolick proved that he can shine on a bigger, brighter stage.

With Team Mark down by five, 135-140, Bolick knocked down a four-point shot before getting fouled by Calvin Oftana in the final 17.8 seconds.

He calmly nailed the bonus free throw before watching Oftana crumble under pressure as he missed the potential game-winning layup that cemented the third All-Star Game tie in league history.

The first draw in the All-Star Game happened in 2008 also in Bacolod City with the North and South All-Stars battling to a draw.

The league, however, allowed the game to go into extra period, paving the way for Peter June Simon to lead Team South to a 163-158 victory.

Nine years later, Gilas Pilipinas and the Mindanao All-Stars also settled for a 114-114 stalemate.

Team Japeth coach Tim Cone said Bolick’s heroics are truly memorable, something that can be compared to what happened in 1989 when Ramon Fernandez knocked down a hook shot in the final four seconds to seal a 132-130 win for Veterans against the Rookies-Sophomores-Juniors squad.

But what made Fernandez’s game-winner truly memorable was the fact that the pass was issued by Robert Jaworski, the feisty playmaker whom he was not seeing eye to eye for quite a long time.

“I was kidding Calvin that Robert gonna owe him some money from the endorsement he gets for being an All-Star legend,” said Cone, who had witnessed all the beautiful moments in this annual spectacle in his four decades of coaching.

“But that’s what he does. He makes all those incredible shots. That’s why he’s an All-Star.”

Bolick emerged with only 13 points but still got to share the MVP trophy together with Aguilar, who finished with 21 markers.

As a bonus, Aguilar, an All-Star MVP in 2019 in Pangasinan, allowed Bolick to take home the trophy to serve as a fitting reminder to his magical shot.

But Bolick feels that the award should have been given to somebody else.

“I really played a bad game,” the NLEX star asserted.

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