The twice-to-beat advantage of the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons vanished into thin air after a 69-89 loss to the hot-shooting University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers in the stepladder playoffs of the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament today at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Maroons were trailing all game long as t hey played right into the pace UST set from the get-go, posing only 3-of-7 triples against the Tiger’s 11 treys.
With this kind of performance, the Growling Tigers will continue to overpower UP if the Maroons fail to get better, head coach Bo Perasol said postgame.
“There is no way we could win against UST. We need to be a lot better,” Perasol said.
“We can’t just be the recipient of their aggressiveness, we need to match up their aggressiveness. The reason why we lost three times in a row [against UST] is they outplayed us, outhustled us.” he added.
The head tactician also believed the effort exerted by the Maroons, not the playoff incentive, contributed to their lackluster performance against the gutsy Tigers.
“If I would have to see it my way, it’s the way we are playing. It has nothing to do with [the] twice-to-beat advantage,” Perasol said. “If we played in the elimination against any other team, probably we could have won with that kind of effort but this is for finals. We have to do better than that.”
UP’s top scorer Juan Gomez de Liano, who took 15 games to record his season-high 20 points in a losing effort, sparked State U’s late rally in the third and fourth quarter. Bright Akhuetie remained as the team’s stabilizing force with another double-double of 19 points and 18 boards.
However, UP’s aggressiveness shown late in the game was not enough to roll past UST.
“It couldn’t be one, two, three [playes], it has to be everybody. You’re up against a team that’s very aggressive [and] we have to match that at least, or be better than them,” he added.
Now with their playoff incentive gone, Perasol still sees the silver lining in their loss.
“We put ourselves in a situation wherein we have another chance, and that chance is going to be the last one for us so if we want to be given the chance to be in the finals again, we really have to play better,” he said.
With the loss, the Fighting Maroons now face a harder battle come the do-or-die Wednesday game against the Growling Tigers at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
QUARTER SCORE: 13-19, 24-41, 47-60, 69-89