MANILA, Philippines – The game plan to limit University of the East (UE) guard Roi Sumang backfired when the star guard was instead benched in their UAAP game, which threw off the Bulldogs, admitted National University (NU) coach Eric Altamirano.
Sumang sat out the game for disciplinary reasons but his UE teammates rose to the occasion as the Red Warriors booked a much-needed 64-55 victory over the Bulldogs on Sunday to remain in the race for the Final Four.
"Our game plan was really centered on Sumang," Altamirano told reporters after their loss, which put their record at 7-4.
"So biglang na-off kami na hindi siya naglaro," added the coach, who was unaware of the reasons behind Sumang's benching.
Altamirano acknowledged that the Bulldogs could have lost focus when it was revealed that Sumang won't be playing.
"Coming into the game, we were really preparing for Sumang to play. That got us off, parang ganun," he said. "But maybe you can also use the world 'rattle,' because we had 26 turnovers."
At the end of the day, however, Altamirano said the loss was of their own doing.
"We did not play well. We played bad today, and really to sum it all up, we lost because of our own doing," he said. "We did not execute, and, of course, UE played well. They shot well, shot better. We committed 26 turnovers, and we gave up to many possessions."
NU's offensive woes also reared its head again, as the Bulldogs' scoring thoroughly sputtered in the second period, when they made only two field goals.
"We're not known for our offense, but extremes eh. We shot well against Ateneo, but then all of a sudden, we're groping for a shot," Altamirano said. "It was really our own doing. I thought that if we had just executed what we wanted to do on offense, we could have done better."
Altamirano said the loss to UE "negated" their big win over the Ateneo Blue Eagles in their previous assignments, but the Bulldogs have no time to wallow in their defeat with just three games to go in the elimination round.
"We have to move forward and stay focused on our next three games," he said.