IT was easy for Builders Warehouse-UST to kneel down and bow out of playoff contention in the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup.
But Kean Baclaan stood firm, refusing to give in, and kept the Growling Tigers in the chase.
Playing without pressure, the rookie out of La Salle-Zobel decided to go all-in and went hard in the Espana crew's last two games.
Baclaan fired 16 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block in Builders Warehouse-UST's must-win game against Wangs Basketball @26-Letran, 89-81, to book the last playoff ticket on Tuesday.
He saved his best for the quarterfinals though, unloading 35 points built from three treys, on top of five assists and three rebounds as the six-seed Growling Tigers stayed alive with a 98-93 escape over no. 3 Adalem Construction-St. Clare on Friday.
It was enough for the 19-year-old to cop the Cignal Play-PBA Press Corps D-League Player of the Week award for the period August 1 to 5 as the group, made up of sportswriters and editors covering the beat, hands out citations in celebration of the developmental league's 10th season.
He outlasted fellow nominees Romel Calahat of Apex Fuel-San Sebastian, Raven Cortez of EcoOil-La Salle, Johnsherick Estrada of Adalem-St. Clare, Juan Gomez de Liano of Marinerong Pilipino, and teammate Sherwin Concepcion for the plum.
It's an enormous honor for the 5-foot-8 Baclaan to take, but to him, it's all credit to how the rest of the team have allowed him to continue playing his game.
"Bilang rookie, binibigyan nila ako ng free will na gawin yung gusto ko para manalo yung team namin," he said as Builders Warehouse came back from a 0-4 start to now move a win away from the semifinals.
Rising to the occasion when the Growling Tigers needed him the most, Baclaan vowed to still come at his best as he hopes for a grand finish for his side.
"Ngayon, ayaw na namin magpatalo," he said.