Enoch Valdez Graduates with No Regrets Despite NCAA Final Four Exit
MANILA, Philippines—Enoch Valdez could’ve had a grand exit for Lyceum after being the anchor of the squad for several years.
But a loss to San Beda in the NCAA Season 99 Final Four abruptly halted his collegiate career, denying the Pirates a trip to the finals.
Still, Valdez said he has no regrets as he wrapped up his collegiate career.
“I have no regrets. I did my part and defended their star player (Jacob Cortez) and I also did my scoring, what else could I do?” Valdez said in jest after their 82-72 loss over the Red Lions at Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
“Iinom na lang ako mamaya. (I’ll just drink later.)”
Valdez saved his best for last with 28 points, seven rebounds and two steals, all while flaunting efficiency from the field with a 50 percent shooting clip.
But what he was most proud of was his defense against Red Lions star Jacob Cortez.
After Cortez scored 28 points in San Beda’s 89-68 decimation of the Pirates in Game 1, the third-year swingman was limited to only seven measly points in the deciding game.
That wasn’t enough, though, as San Beda’s role players did their part to help the Lions march back to the Finals for the first time since 2019.
Unfortunately for Valdez, the other Pirates couldn’t do the same.
“When my scoring slid down, I don’t know what happened. Maybe they got rattled with the crowd plus the added pressure because for the others, this is really their first time. It’s for experience now and that’s okay,” explained the PBA-bound forward.
Now that he’s officially signed with NLEX, the team that selected him in this year’s draft, Valdez bared that he wanted to instill something positive in the remaining Pirates like JM Bravo, Shawn Umali and John Barba.
At the end of the day, it’s reciprocation since Valdez, himself, is bringing something imparted to him by Gilbert Malabanan’s system.
“At the start of the preseason, I always take an extra workout at 4 am. That made a mark for them because I’m not really that talented. I get my results with hard work. That’s what I hope to leave behind for them.”
“I’ll carry my heart for the game over to the professional level. The mentality that whatever happens, even if I’m losing, as long as I do my part, I’ll do it.”
Now, sky is the limit for the athletic swingman as he moves on to the big league with the Road Warriors.
His help will be sorely needed by coach Frankie Lim as they’re facing a roster dilemma following franchise player Kevin Alas’ ACL injury.
But other than strutting his stuff in the pros, Valdez is also excited to play against his fellow Lycean CJ Perez of San Miguel Beer.
“I’m so excited for that. I want to defend him. Just imagining your idol and older brother as your opponent then getting a steal off of him and dunking it, that must feel so good,” said a giddy Valdez.
Lyceum can still notch a podium finish following the newly-implemented battle-for-third match when they face College of St. Benilde on December 10 but Valdez bared that he won’t be playing in that game anymore.