MANILA, Philippines – University of Sto. Tomas (UST) head coach Pido Jarencio is happy with his players’ performance in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 75 Finals even as they lost, 78-83, to the defending champions Ateneo last Saturday.
Jarencio pointed out that his players did not have Finals experience, unlike the Blue Eagles who are four-time defending champions, but they still gave their best effort.
“Bakit hindi?” Jarencio answered when asked if he was satisfied with the Tigers’ performance. “Eh magpapakamatay ang mga bata! Lumamang pa nga kami ng isa. Lamang sila ng sampu, hindi kami bumitaw.”
“Saan mo hahanapin ‘yun, ‘yung mga ganoong players? Ang hirap noon.”
The Tigers entered the fourth quarter trailing 51-41, but came all the way back to take a 64-63 lead with a little under seven minutes to go. In crunch time, however, they were unable to stop Ateneo’s Ryan Buenafe and Juami Tiongson, who combined in the game-clinching run to put the Blue Eagles ahead for good.
Jarencio said he reassured his players after the difficult defeat.
“Ang parting words ko sa mga bata kanina, sabi ko sa kanila, ‘Alam niyo, nakakatuwa nga tayo. Binigyan natin ng magandang laban ‘yung Ateneo. ‘Yung Ateneo, apat na taon nasa championship ‘yan. ‘Yung experience niyan, nandiyan na,’” Jarencio said.
“Kami, unang taon pa lang ng mga bata. Kasi ‘yung 2006, iba naman ‘yun. Ako lang naman ‘yung nandito. Isipin mo, naglaro sila, championship, ganyan ang nilaro? Okay na ako doon,” he said.
But Jarencio said he is expecting an even better performance from the Growling Tigers when Game 2 gets underway on Thursday.
“Magse-settle down ‘yan. ‘Yung experience, na-feel na nila,” Jarencio said of his players. “Wala ng pressure niyan pagdating ng Thursday game, kaya magme-mellow down kami.”
“Medyo mas may composure kami, kaya ‘yung mga weaknesses namin, maayos namin,” he added.
Jarencio is also hoping for better officiating in the second game after he railed against the referees’ decisions in Game 1.
“Let the players decide, not the officiating,” he said.