MANILA, Philippines — University of the Philippines (UP) coach Bo Perasol was proud of how the Fighting Maroons played against Ateneo de Manila University on Wednesday, even though they fell short in the end.
The Fighting Maroons came close to handing the Blue Eagles their first loss of UAAP Season 80, even leading by 12 points in the third quarter.
But they fell apart in the fourth frame, scoring only 18 points while giving up 33 to Ateneo. After tying the game at 79 with four minutes left, they struggled on both ends, and the Blue Eagles finished the game on a 15-3 run to claim a 96-82 win.
“I have to give it to Ateneo. They were very good. They were very composed in the end,” said Perasol after the loss, which dealt a blow to UP’s hopes of making the Final 4.
Yet he was also full of praise for his own team, which showed no fear against an Ateneo squad that has yet to suffer a loss in the tournament.
“As far as we are concerned, except for the last two minutes, the last 1:38, I can say that I am proud of the effort of the guys. Their confidence, their desire to get back and that is what I want,” said Perasol.
It was in those final two minutes that the game got away from UP. A questionable foul called on Jun Manzo gave Jolo Mendoza the go-ahead free throws and became the turning point of the game as the Fighting Maroons were unable to regain their composure.
“I told them that the lesson there is, it’s not enough,” Perasol said.
“To get ahead, you need to beat the best teams. And in order to beat the best teams, you need to beat them in the end game. That's where we failed — in the end game,” he pointed out.
Still, not all is lost for UP. They drop to 5-8 with one game to go in the eliminations, but they still have a chance for the Final 4 — assuming they beat National University (NU) on Saturday, and Far Eastern University loses to Adamson University in their own crucial game.
“What’s in our hands right now is to have a victory against NU,” said Perasol. “It’s not going to help us if we’re going to lose.”
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