The UP coaching staff during the Maroons' game against La Salle. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines (UP) assistant coach Ramil Cruz admitted the Fighting Maroons' team morale was low during their game against De La Salle University on Wednesday due to the suspension of head coach Rey Madrid.
Madrid was serving the first of a two-game suspension handed to him by UAAP Commissioner Andy Jao after he made allegations of point-shaving against the league referees.
"Medyo naiwan kami," said Cruz, who took over the team for the game.
The Maroons fell behind by as much as 32 points in the first half, and although they played better in the second half, this was not enough as they lost 74-53. It was their sixth straight defeat this season and 27th consecutive dating back to 2012.
Cruz said they followed the game plan they set for other teams, but it was hard to compensate for the Maroons' low morale.
"Kung ano ang game plan namin during every game, 'yun din. Walang binago," he said. "Kaya lang nga, medyo mababa 'yung morale ng mga bata dahil wala siya."
"Expected naman 'yun," he quickly added. "Mahirap, pero we just had to deal with that. Nangyayari talaga 'yun. Wala kaming magagawa doon."
Cruz said that what happened was a "learning lesson" for all concerned, but the Maroons will quickly have to move on from their loss to La Salle as they play another game on Saturday, against the winless Adamson Falcons.
"Mas importante 'yun," Cruz said of their match-up against the Falcons, wherein both teams are seeking their first wins of the season.
Still, he said they will treat the Falcons like the other UAAP teams.
"Just like any other team, ganoon din ang treatment namin," Cruz said.