MANILA, Philippines -- De La Salle University guard Schonny Winston believes that there is a benefit to playing the University of the Philippines (UP) so early in their campaign, even if the Green Archers came away with another loss.
La Salle once again lost grip of a double-digit lead against the Fighting Maroons, and couldn't stop reigning Rookie of the Year Carl Tamayo down the stretch. They absorbed a 72-69 loss for a poor start to their UAAP Season 85 campaign.
"We fell short. It was a tough opening game. We had them in the Final 4 last [season], kinda similar result," noted Winston after the game.
In a do-or-die Final 4 game in Season 84, the Green Archers were well in control but gave up a 22-4 closing run to the Fighting Maroons, with Tamayo leading the UP rally. The Fighting Maroons went on to beat Ateneo de Manila University in the finals for their first title in nearly four decades.
A season later, La Salle found itself in the same situation against the Fighting Maroons. But while the result was disappointing, Winston believes that it can be something for the Green Archers to build on.
"It was a good experience. We have a lot of young guys on our team. So it was a good first game," said Winston, who had 27 points but was held in check down the stretch. "Kevin [Quiambao] is young, a bunch of other guys are young, so it was a very good first game."
"I'm glad we got this experience under our belts, and we got the experience of probably what a Final 4 game would look like for our younger players," he added.
"It was a loss, but there's definitely some benefit playing this game early."
The game showed that La Salle needs to work on its fourth quarter execution, said Winston. UP limited them to just 15 points in the period, with Winston scoring just two more points after torching the Fighting Maroons in the previous three quarters.
On the other end, they allowed Tamayo to break loose for eight points and seven boards after having limited him early on.
"We proved that we can compete for three quarters. I think everybody knows that, and the fourth quarter is the time that really counts," said Winston. "Staying focused and really locking in in the fourth quarter is really big for our team. I think we're gonna improve on it going into the season."
La Salle is back in action on Wednesday against University of Santo Tomas, which won their opening day assignment against Adamson University.
Catch replays of UAAP Season 84 games via the UAAP Varsity channel on iWantTFC, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.