MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) continues to have University of the Philippines' (UP) number in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament.
The Growling Tigers already swept their two meetings in the elimination round, and in the stepladder semifinal on Sunday, they crushed the Fighting Maroons, 89-69, to force a do-or-die game for a spot in the championship round.
For UP head coach Bo Perasol, the result was understandable, given what he saw from his players.
"The way we played in most of the quarters, there's just no way we can win against UST," he admitted. "We need to be a lot better."
"The reason that we lost three times this season (against UST) is because they outplayed and outhustled us," said the coach. "It has nothing to do with what we should have done defensively."
Instead, it is their effort that Perasol was disappointed at, as he believes that the Maroons played at just a "regular" level.
"Ang dating, parang, 'Okay, let's just play.' No. 1, if you are going up against UST, you need to be better. No. 2, if you’re playing for the finals, you need to be better," said the coach.
"So, ang sabi ko, if that’s the way we’re going to play, it’s ano eh, it’s a given conclusion that we’re going to lose," he added.
This is not to say that the Fighting Maroons were relaxed, or complacent. Perasol believes that they played their usual game – but that is simply not enough to beat a fired-up UST team that was determined to extend its season.
"If we played in the elimination against any other team, we would have won with that kind of effort," said Perasol. "But this is the finals!"
"We have to do better than that," he stressed.
The good news for the Fighting Maroons is that they have one more chance to punch their ticket to the finals, as they play the Growling Tigers again on Wednesday.
"That chance is going to be the last one for us," said Perasol.
"So, if we want to be given the chance to be in the finals again, and deserve to be in the finals, we really have to play better," he added.
"Because looking forward, if that's going to be the kind of game we’re going to play against Ateneo, we are just going to be a show for Ateneo."
"We couldn't bring that kind of game to any team, UST or against any team. We have to be a lot better. We have to be a lot better."
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