Paul Zamar was having a horrible Game 1 in the Quarterfinals. He was clanging shot after shot after shot the entire afternoon. After averaging 16.7 points throughout the whole season with high efficiency, Zamar had only 2 points going into the deciding 4th quarter of his team’s first playoff game. He was visibly frustrated with his performance throughout the entire first half and things still hadn’t picked up with only 10 minutes left in the game.
Needless to say, Zamar wasn’t doing very well.
“Not at all.” He said shaking his head after the game in disapproval of his early performance.
After nearly 36 minutes of basketball, Zamar only had 3 points… but he knew that he couldn’t let that get to his head.
“[My teammates] just said keep playing, keep shooting that shot. We believe in you.”
The Filipino did just that. He had been shooting only 1-8 from the field midway through the fourth quarter and was 0-3 from downtown. But he didn’t put his head down, he kept playing, and he kept shooting that shot.
It turned out paying off big time.
Larry Liew had just nailed a three-pointer to give the Singapore Slingers a 76-73 lead with 4 minutes left in the game. Mono Vampire had clawed back to tie the game after being down by as much as 10, but they couldn’t afford to give the Slingers the lead again with time winding down. Jason Brickman kicked the ball out to Zamar who despite having been ice cold through the entire game didn’t hesitate to launch a three.
The ball sailed into the air towards the basket, barely escaping the outstretched arms of Ng Han Bin. As the shot rattled in, a whistle alarmed that there was a foul on Zamar and that he’d be sent to the line for an additional point.
It probably would have been the biggest shots of the game… but Zamar wasn’t done yet.
Xavier Alexander quickly responded with two points on a putback to regain the lead 78-77. The Slingers went back on defense and locked the Mono Vampire down. All ball movements looking for an open shot were shunned by the Slingers suffocating defense and it looked like a lost possession when a pass to Samuel Deguara was deflected all the way out to Zamar who was a good 25 feet away from the basket.
With only 2 seconds left on the shot clock, Mono Vampire’s Heritage Import had no choice but to let the shot fly — straight into the net for his second straight triple of the game.
The shot swung the momentum completely back to Mono Vampire and the Singapore Slingers never recovered. Zamar and the Mono Vampire came away with win in Game 1. His hot shooting continued in Game 2 and where they continued to win and sweep the series.
Who knows where Mono Vampire would be had Zamar let his early game struggles get to his head. But that’s just not who he is. He’s gone through so much he knows better than to hang his head on those struggles.
“I have failed so much in my life, in my basketball career,” Zamar said after Game 1. “With those lessons, I’ve learned that the game isn’t over until the final buzzer so I gotta keep playing hard. Even if I have been playing bad the whole game, I just focus on the next play, and the next play, and the next play.”
The 30-year-old guard has had a rollercoaster basketball career. From being part of one of the more memorable Collegiate Teams in the Philippines at the University of the East to not being able to win a championship. From being drafted to the PBA to being unable to crack a roster spot. From starring in the PBA D-League to not getting a call up. From bouncing around tournaments and leagues overseas to where he is now. Zamar has come a long way and his advanced maturity is a result of those life lessons.
“Attitude,” Zamar says of what he has improved the most since his early days. “I was a very emotional player, even in college. I always get down easily but those lessons taught me that I’m going nowhere if I continue with this attitude. With those lessons in life, you learn that you gotta be strong. You gotta be strong in life especially when you are down because it’s only you that can help yourself.”
Now, Zamar is enjoying a high time with Mono Vampire. They are one of the hottest teams in the league, boasting one of the best offenses ever in ABL history. They are just two wins away from making it to the ABL Finals and five victories away from winning it all. Zamar is a huge reason of why this is all possible.
Whatever happens from here on out, not matter how bad the situation will seem, don’t expect Zamar to just give in and give up.
Because after all that Paul Zamar has been through, he knows better that it’s never over until the final buzzer sounds.