UST head coach Bong Dela Cruz. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – New University of Santo Tomas (UST) head coach Bong dela Cruz lamented his team's poor execution as the Growling Tigers were whipped by National University (NU) Bulldogs, 59-40, in their first game of the UAAP season.
UST struggled on both ends of the floor and were utterly unable to set up their offense, while failing to stop NU when the Bulldogs began to assert themselves in the second period.
The Tigers turned the ball over 26 times and registered only three assists the entire game.
"First game, bad execution. Ganoon talaga," said dela Cruz, who replaced Pido Jarencio as head coach of the Tigers.
"Ang naging problema namin ay 'yung offense namin. Ayun ang naging problema namin. Sarili namin ang naging problema namin in this game," he added.
"Kung makikita niyo yung stats, three assists lang kami. So kailangan namin i-work out 'yun. Sa rebounds, wala kaming problema eh. Execution talaga. Sarili namin talaga ang problema this game."
Dela Cruz said the game against NU showed that UST has yet to fully learn the system he is trying to teach them.
"Talagang totally, nawala kami sa system," he said. "Talagang 'yung ball movement, nawala. Three assists lang. Nagulat kamina three assists lang."
UST's struggles were personified by their veterans, with Aljon Mariano, Karim Abdul and Kevin Ferrer combining to score only 26 points on an atrocious 8-of-37 clip. Ferrer was also responsible for seven of UST's turnovers.
"Bumawi na lang," Dela Cruz said when asked what he told his veterans. "Mga beterano naman 'yan eh. Alam na nila 'yung mistakes nila, so in practice they have to work hard para next game, maka-bounce back sila."
The Tigers will only have a couple of days to recover from their loss as they plunge back into action on Wednesday against the University of the East, who won their opening day assignment against the woeful University of the Philippines.