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NCAA Spotlight: Jacob Cortez’s Missed Award Opportunity Paves Path to Ultimate Victory

MANILA, Philippines—Jacob Cortez has a special celebration of making a call sign every time he hits a shot from long distance in the clutch.

And why wouldn’t he be smiling? After all, he and the Lions just survived an absolute war in Game 2 of the NCAA Season 99 Finals, 71-65, to force a title decider next week.

But that smile quickly turned into a hyper-focused gaze when asked about his exclusion from the statistics-based Mythical Five bannered by Mapua’s Clint Escamis, who won Rookie of the Year and MVP at the same time.

When the question “did it get to you?” finished, the third-year guard immediately affirmed and made his thoughts known.

That “award” he referred to was, of course, the ultimate one which is the championship and that title may also come with a Finals MVP plum if the stars align for the former University of Santo Tomas player.

“[I’m] super motivated, I’d say and not only this time but the whole season because they were calling us a rebuilding team. Nobody thought we’d be in the Finals forcing a Game 3 but we kept our circle small. We don’t listen to anyone not in our circle and I think we did a good job with that.”

“We played soft in Game 1 so while watching the film, we were motivated to play Game 2 like we belong in the Finals. Good thing we played that way and hopefully we play even better in Game 3.”

Game 3 is on Sunday at Araneta Coliseum.