MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas' (UST) nail-biting win over the Adamson Soaring Falcons in the UAAP men's basketball tournament last weekend seemed to raise more questions than answers for the Growling Tigers.
UST fell behind against a young Adamson squad and needed a late-game meltdown from the Falcons and a split at the free throw line by Kent Lao to register a 50-49 win, their second of the season.
"Hindi ko alam kung ano ang nangyari sa amin," said UST head coach Bong dela Cruz. "After a good game against FEU (Far Eastern University), ngayon bumalik na naman kami sa… ewan."
"Tentative 'yung mga bata. Hindi ko alam kung ano nangyari. I guess kailangan mag-usap-usap ulit kami," he said.
Dela Cruz was asked about his team probably being too complacent against an Adamson squad that not many expected to contend this season, and he acknowledged that it may have been a factor.
"Andoon na rin 'yung point na 'yun, kaya lang as a veteran team, hindi dapat ganoon ang maging attitude ng team namin," he said.
Dela Cruz was also grilled about his plans for helping starting center Karim Abdul, who only registered eight points and nine rebounds against a small Adamson frontline.
"Maganda rin siguro 'yung dinepensa ng Adamson," Dela Cruz said. "So again, sabi ko nga, kailangan namin mag-practice ulit. Kailangan namin tingnan 'yung mga mistakes namin and improve our game."
Part of the problem was their shooters who have failed to find their mark consistently, Dela Cruz said.
"May mga shooters nga kami kaya lang hindi maka-shoot," he rued. "So siguro, practice pa. Hindi pa tama 'yung ginagawa namins a shooting, so, just continue kami ng practice. Mas madaming shooting na this time."
"Siyempre, concern namin 'yun (shooting)," he also said. "Nagpa-practice kami every day to improve our game, to improve the shooting and free throws, tapos this game ganito ang magiging laro namin. So disappointed."
Another issue that Dela Cruz had to face was the continued slump of veteran forward Aljon Mariano, who played less than 20 minutes and scored seven points, making only two of his nine field goal attempts.
"Mino-motivate naman namin si Aljon every practice and every game," Dela Cruz insisted. "Siguro masama lang talaga 'yung game niya, or hindi pa niya nakukuha 'yung game niya."
More practice seems to be the refrain for Dela Cruz as the Tigers hope to become more consistent midway through the first round.
"Kailangan namin ay consistency," said Dela Cruz, "Consistency ng mga players."