MANILA – University of Santo Tomas (UST) head coach Bong Dela Cruz wants the other members of his team to step up as the Growling Tigers make a push for a Final Four spot in the second round of the UAAP Season 77 tournament.
UST currently has a 4-4 win-loss record and holds a share of the fifth spot with University of the East.
"Kailangan namin mag-build ng winning streak," said Dela Cruz.
UST center Karim Abdul played sparingly in their game against Adamson last weekend as he is still recovering from an illness, and it was veteran forward Aljon Mariano who came up with the crucial plays in the endgame as the Tigers escaped with a 61-59 win over the Soaring Falcons.
Dela Cruz is now calling on his other veterans, including Ed Daquioag and John Sheriff, to step up, especially with Abdul still recuperating.
"Si Ed, kailangan namin siya sa team, so kinausap ko siya," said the coach. "May tiwala pa rin ako sa kanya. Kailangan niya mag-step up. Bibigyan ko pa rin siya ng playing time, at ganoon din si Sheriff."
"Second round na kasi. Kailangan namin ng mas maraming tao na mag-step up para magkaroon kami ng panalo," Dela Cruz added.
UST's second round push is boosted by the fact that the veteran Mariano has steadily improved after struggling early in the tournament.
"Sa umpisa ng season, nag-struggle talaga ako, so nag-trabaho lang ako para bumalik 'yung laro ko," he said. "Nag-advise lang sa akin si coach lagi, at mino-motivate niya ako na, 'Ibalik mo 'yung laro mo,' ibibigay niya sa akin 'yung playing time, kaya nakuha ko rin."