UAAP: UST seeks return to winning ways after challenging campaign

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 07 2022 12:36 PM

The UST community applaud the Growling Tigers after their last game of UAAP Season 84. UAAP Media.
The UST community applaud the Growling Tigers after their last game of UAAP Season 84. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines – The 84th season of the UAAP was not kind to University of Santo Tomas, as the Growling Tigers found themselves on the losing end of a pair of historic blowouts.

The Tigers won three games in Season 84, good for seventh in the league and just ahead of the winless University of the East (0-14). But UST suffered its share of painful defeats, including a brutal 101-51 demolition against Ateneo de Manila University in the second round, and a 109-65 blowout against Far Eastern University to end their campaign.

According to league statistician Pong Ducanes, those margin of defeats -- 50 points and 44 points -- were the biggest in the UAAP since 2003.

"Dami natutunan," UST head coach Jinino Manansala said after they were crushed by the Tamaraws in their final game. "Sabi ko, namnamin namin 'tong pagkatalo, tapos next season, gagawin namin talaga 'yung lahat."

"Pinaka kadulu-duluhan ng bench, we need to work really, really hard sa Season 85, para mabalik namin 'yung winning ways namin," he added. "Hindi namin gusto 'yung three wins eh. Iba 'yung gusto namin, pero ito lang 'yung binigay sa amin so kailangan namin mag-improve next season."

UST showed some promise in the first round, with back-to-back wins against the University of the East and Adamson University. But they managed just one win the rest of the way, when they repeated against the Red Warriors in the second round.

Manansala points out that they are a "very young team," and believes that their experiences this year will help his players grow. He is only losing one player in Joshua Fontanilla, who scored 11.8 points per game for the Tigers in Season 84.

They have already begun the recruiting process, adding Filipino-American big man Gani Stevens to their roster. 

However, they are also reportedly set to lose the entirety of Manansala's coaching staff. It was reported by Tiebreaker Times on Friday that the UST assistant coaches, led by McJour Luib, have "passed their resignation letter to the school."

Luib was Manansala's chief assistant and the head coach of the UST Tiger Cubs. He is a protégé of former UST head coach Aldin Ayo. The Varsitarian has reported that the university has yet to receive the resignation letters of the coaches, however.

Manansala made no mention of his own future following UST's last game, only stressing the need to relax and recover after a difficult campaign that took place in unique circumstances. The Tigers broke their bubble after their last loss, finally getting the chance to return to their families for the first time since January.

The coach, at the time, was already looking forward to the work they need to do for Season 85 that starts later this year.

"Siyempre, hindi agad-agad itong team na 'to magpe-perform ng maganda. Hindi agad-agad 'yan. Talagang proseso 'yan. Ito magandang experience sa mga bata. Looking forward for Season 85," he said.