By Jerome Lagunzad
University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol and top gunner Paul Desiderio offered contrasting views about the Fighting Maroons’ downward spiral for the past two weeks in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament.
“Down kami kasi tatlong sunod na talo,” lamented the 5-foot-9 Desiderio, a bold admission which Perasol begged to differ.
“I don’t want to call it a slump. And I refuse to call it a slump. I think we played well in the last two games. We weren’t just rewarded in the end,” he said.
They may have different opinions, but the Fighting Maroons must be on the same page today when they try to pump life to their Final Four hopes against the bleeding Growling Tigers of University of Santo Tomas at 2 p.m. inside the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
After pulling off a colossal 98-87 stunner over defending champion La Salle last Sept. 23, UP found itself crashing back to earth, absorbing a 78-59 beating against host Far Eastern University before falling prey to Adamson (73-71) and National University (77-70) that put it out of the “Magic Four.”
While he admitted the Fighting Maroons failed to stand their ground against the Tamaraws, Perasol believes his wards’ lack of experience and poise down the stretch did them in against the Soaring Falcons and the Bulldogs.
“I think it’s a matter of being mature enough to finish the game,” he said. “Being capable also of closing the game.
I think that when we’ve been able to learn from our lessons and be aware of that, then we can be better in the second round.”
The Fighting Maroons should do that more than ever if they don’t want to put themselves in danger anew against the Growling Tigers, who nearly pulled off an upset – if not for Desiderio’s clutch triple – in a close 74-73 call last Sept. 10.
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