It's time for a new champion, says UST's Jarencio
MANILA – For University of Santo Tomas (UST) coach Pido Jarencio, it's about time the UAAP crowned a new men's basketball champion.
Jarencio and his Growling Tigers made sure of that when they defeated five-time defending champions Ateneo, 82-74, in their do-or-die game yesterday to claim the last spot in the Final Four of the Season 76 tournament.
“Siguro, it’s about time na mag-palit lang,” said Jarencio after the game. “Mag-iba naman ang champion this year.”
The Growling Tigers were the Blue Eagles’ last victims, as Ateneo swept UST in two games in last season’s finals to win a fifth consecutive championship.
“S’yempre, masarap ‘yung pakiramdam. Tinalo nila kami sa championship last year, and then this year, in-out namin sila sa Final Four,” said Jarencio, adding that revenge was not really on his mind.
“Lahat na ng motivation, ginawa ko na sa mga bata, eh nagre-respond naman sila. Wala naman sa akin ‘yung ‘bawi.’ Basta kami, laban,” he explained.
UST led by as much as 16 points in the game, and were ahead by 13 points twice in the final quarter. But the game still went down the wire as Ateneo rallied each time, coming as close as four points with 53 seconds to go.
“Talagang mabigat kalaban ‘yung Ateneo. Defending champion ‘yan, five years nag-champion ‘yan. Five-time champion, kaya medyo mahirap talunin ng ganun-ganun lang,” said Jarencio.
The coach said that their heart and pride, as well as the thousands of UST fans who trooped to the Araneta Coliseum yesterday, were the keys to their victory.
“It’s all about puso. Puso and then pride. And then, especially, ‘yung sixth man namin, ‘yung UST community. Grabe ‘yung support ng school, ng alumni, ng mga fans. Para sa kanila ito. Hindi lang ito para sa amin as a team, pero para sa whole UST community ito,” Jarencio said.
The Growling Tigers have now made the Final Four for the third consecutive year, the longest active streak in the UAAP after Ateneo’s 14-year streak was snapped.
“Kahit papaano, may chance tayo na makabalik ng Finals,” Jarencio said. “Alam kong medyo mahirap. Number one team (National University) ang kakalabanin namin, pero pagdating naman ng Final Four, ibang usapan na ‘yan.”
“Pare-parehas na tayo d’yan. It’s all about heart, tsaka ‘yung desire – kung sino ‘yung mas gusto manalo,” he added.