UP coach Rey Madrid. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines (UP) head coach Rey Madrid took the blame for his team's disappointing 71-85 loss to Far Eastern University (FEU) last weekend and acknowledged that the squad is "grasping at straws" so far in the UAAP men's basketball tournament.
"That was on me," Madrid said of the loss, which saw UP keep in step with the Tamaraws in the first half only to get blown out in the third quarter.
"I inserted a new set of five, hoping that they could buy time for my starters. Nag-backfire siya," Madrid said of his tactics in the third period.
"Learning sa akin ito. Short of a blunder 'yung ginawa ko sa start of the third quarter. That's just it. It was a mistake on my part," he stressed.
The Fighting Maroons, who entered the season with expectations of winning at least three games, have dropped to 0-4 and all their losses have come via large margins.
"We are just grasping at straws right now," admitted Madrid, who was appointed the UP head coach midway through Season 76. "We just try to learn as much as we can and not get down too much, not to get discourage, not to get frustrated."
"I know we're doing really bad, but I hope we can put something together before the first round ends and be more competitive in the second round," he added.
A big challenge for Madrid now is keeping his players' morale high despite their poor performances, and the coach said he "can use all the help I can get."
"I just want them to be together right now, kasi that's the biggest challenge right now for us," he said. "We're not a great team, we're not a super team, but we still try to compete at this level, so the best we can do is hold on to each other."
UP will next face last season's losing finalists, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, who are not performing up to their usual standards, and were on the brink of defeat to the Adamson Falcons last weekend before pulling out a 50-49 victory.
UST's struggles are of no consolation to Madrid, however.
"Independent ang look ng one team against another team," he pointed out. "We cannot judge, because malakas ang team na 'yun eh. We don't base it doon sa (game against Adamson)."