MANILA, Philippines -- There will only be a "small celebration" for the De La Salle University Green Archers after they officially secured their spot in the Final 4 of the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament on Thursday.
This, according to swingman Deschon Winston who scored a game-high 19 points in their 64-51 victory against Adamson University.
"This is the beginning," said Winston. "This was basically the first round of the playoffs, to get us to the playoffs. It's a small celebration, it's a small step towards the right direction that we want to go as a team."
"This is just the beginning, and we have more to accomplish as a team," he stressed.
La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren will surely be happy to hear of Winston's mindset, as he stressed that the Green Archers still have work to do.
This is La Salle's first appearance in the Final 4 since Season 80, when they still had two-time Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala as their ace while Aldin Ayo called the shots for the team. In the next two seasons, they finished in fifth place.
Pumaren said that returning to the semifinals was a goal that the Green Archers worked on for two years, even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when they can only work out via Zoom.
"Ang immediate goal namin is to make it to the Final 4, and we're really happy to make it and achieve that immediate goal," said Pumaren.
"It's not over yet, hopefully we're not gonna be too happy about making it to the Final 4," he was quick to add. "We don't wanna stop here. We just want to go on and try to do good, to do well in the playoffs."
Regardless of how the rest of the elimination round shakes up, La Salle is already locked in as the third-seed, and will thus be at a twice-to-beat disadvantage when they play in the Final 4.
"I know it's gonna be a tough task for us," Pumaren said. "But we just have to take it one game at a time."
"We're happy that we made it to the Final 4," La Salle point guard Evan Nelle said, summing up the team's mentality. "But the job's not done."