By NIKOLE JAVIER
University of the Philippines head coach Goldwin Monteverde is reflecting on the big lessons for now following the Fighting Maroons’ 73-69 Game 3 heartbreaker against the La Salle Green Archers on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 52-year-old mentor took the loss in stride and refused to stress over the future of the program which he has now been responsible for in the past three seasons.
In Season 84, Monteverde steered UP to its first title in 36 years just in his first try.
However, the Fighting Maroons have since fallen short of the championship in back-to-back seasons.
“Every year naman ‘yung ang hahabulin natin. Makuha ‘yung finals. We will always treat that as [a lesson] kung anong nangyari. Last time marami rin nawala rito. Next season, iba rin ang magiging players sa team. Hindi ko rin ma-compare ‘yung sitwasyon,” said Monteverde.
Although the Game 3 affair was closely-contested, the Katipunan-based squad led for most of the game and even held a nine-point advantage in the second quarter.
UP clinched its first-ever top seed finish in the elimination round before entering the finals and eventually posted the biggest Game 1 victory in the Final Four era, besting La Salle with a 30-point winning margin, 97-67, to move on cusp of their second title in three seasons.
Not to mention, the Fighting Maroons ended the Green Archers’ nine-game winning streak to open their best-of-three title series.
Just when they thought they had it, though, the Archers bounced back strong, winning Game 2, 82-60.
“In a way, they should know what it takes, what to work on. Hindi dapat makuntento. We’re there right now [on top]. Dapat mas maging motivation pa sa kanila,” Monteverde said.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the three-pointer that CJ Cansino buried in the early goings of the closing period was the only shot the Fighting Maroons made from beyond.
“That’s basketball. Sometimes, you know it could 1-of-17, minsan nagaganap ‘yung mga ganito. ‘Yung mga ganung bagay we need to work on,” he said.
Aside from the disastrous outside shooting, UP was hounded by late-game miscues that could’ve turned into eventual game-winning points.
“Nangyayari kasi talaga ‘yun eh. May mga miscues during game time ganitong finals. For me, dapat naman hindi na nangyayari ‘yung mga ganun. But it happens to the best of us. Mahirap man, but kailangan natin matutunan hindi [maulit] ‘yun,” he said.