MANILA -- Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) women's basketball head coach LA Mumar sees his Blue Eagles' gutsy overtime win as an encouraging sign for them to become an even more mature unit as the season progresses.
The Blue Eagles outlasted De La Salle University, 87-80 on Wednesday to pick up their first victory of the UAAP Season 86 women's basketball tournament, bouncing back from an opening day loss to defending champion National University last weekend.
"I think as we get experience, hopefully, we get better and better. We lost a lot of close games last year. Sana good sign 'tong medyo dikit tapos overtime pa against La Salle," Mumar said.
The seesaw battle had the Lady Archers leading by as much as 10 points early on, before their rivals took control in the fourth quarter.
However, the Blue Eagles blew a 72-67 lead under the final minute as La Salle forced extension.
Fortunately, graduating player and Gilas Pilipinas Women mainstay Jhazmin Joson took charge in overtime for the blue and white with two crucial triples.
"I'm so thankful for Jhaz. She's the leader of the team, really the heart and soul. It makes my life a lot easier as a coach," Mumar said.
"'Yung teammates niya, tinutulungan niya. We want to make sure that this last season is going to be a great memorable season (for her)."
Mumar credited Joson for her take-charge mantra in her final year, given Ateneo's young roster who banks on her for leadership.
"Jhaz stabilizes our team. Daming immature, a lot of freshmen and sophomores on our team, we don't have a lot of seniors," he said.
Joson has embraced the role seamlessly, but also gave credit to her teammates for showcasing grit and toughness towards the end.
"What I'm really grateful for is that the girls did not fold. They were really trying to fight back and we wanted to win," Joson said. "We made a lot of mistakes but we just let that go and played along."
Looking ahead, the second-year mentor wants his young Blue Eagles to absorb the experience from the overtime win so they can give themselves a fair shot of winning each time they enter the court.
"Our girls are still immature. We had the game won early pero I'm just happy the fighting heart was there in overtime. We could have easily folded up pero lumaban 'yung mga girls," he said.
"We feel we still need to mature. Pero I think kaya naming talunin lahat. We have the ability to do that. And we can also lose to everybody."