MANILA, Philippines -- As proud as he is of their remarkable victory against Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines (UP) coach Goldwin Monteverde knows they cannot afford to dwell on that achievement.
The Fighting Maroons inflicted a first defeat in four years on Ateneo last Sunday, outlasting the Blue Eagles, 84-83, to snap the defending champions' 39-game winning streak.
The win ensures that the Final 4 will follow a traditional format in Season 84, instead of a step-ladder. It's also a boost of confidence for the Fighting Maroons, as they snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Blue Eagles.
But Monteverde said the celebration should start and end on Sunday night, as they have more to achieve in the season other than ending Ateneo's quest for a second consecutive perfect campaign.
"Whatever we felt kanina after that win, doon na lang 'yun," the coach said. "When we get back to the hotel, ang isip namin would be going towards Final 4."
There, the Fighting Maroons will be taking on a dangerous De La Salle University squad that had given them a scare twice in the elimination round. UP pulled off close victories each time, winning 61-59 in the first round and 72-69 in the second.
"La Salle is a strong team also," said Monteverde. "Dapat paghandaan namin ng maayos."
The good news for UP is that they will be armed with a twice-to-beat advantage as the second-seeded team. The Fighting Maroons had already secured the semis bonus with still two games left in their season, and Monteverde said their final assignments were crucial to their build-up for the Final 4.
"Alam namin na we're second, nasa amin na 'yung twice-to-beat advantage," Monteverde said of their approach to their last two elimination round games. "Pero siyempre, I've been consistent naman ever since nag-start 'yung season na we're always looking for that improvement."
"So the last game against UST, and even today's game, we're really doing our best defensively at saka offensively, to execute sa opensa, and 'yung team defense namin mapaganda pa namin," he added.
"I think it would be a big factor pagpasok namin ng Final 4. So, whatever we did, 'tong last two games, we really gained a lot from it."
The Fighting Maroons warmed up for their big game against Ateneo with a 96-67 demolition of University of Santo Tomas (UST) last Thursday.