Lack of focus, effort doomed UST Growling Tigers
MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) head coach Pido Jarencio and star player Jeric Teng believe it was a lack of focus, along with a lackluster effort, that doomed the Growling Tigers in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 76 Finals against De La Salle University on Saturday.
After winning Game 1, 73-72, the Tigers looked poised to claim their first UAAP crown since 2006, but La Salle had other ideas. Behind a dominant performance by their frontline, the Green Archers took Game 2, 77-70, to force a winner-take-all game.
“Ine-expect ko talaga na magiging malakas ‘yung dating ng kabila,” Jarencio said after the game. “Parang na-out of focus din
Jarencio noted that the increased media attention on his team – the first fourth seed to reach the UAAP Finals – may have been a distraction. It also did not help that the Tigers were unable to fulfill the “rituals” that they usually do during games.
“Sa dugout, ang daming tao, maingay,” Jarencio rued. “Sabi ko ‘yung last four games namin hindi ganoon ang atmosphere. Tahimik, naka-focus.”
“May mga ginagawa kaming bagay na hindi namin nagawa ngayong araw, ‘yung mga little things. Katulad nito, dapat mga 1:30 p.m. nandito na kami. Umalis kami sa UST ng 12:30, alas dos na nasa traffic pa rin kami,” he added.
“Mga ritwal na ginagawa namin 'yan. Every time na may game nagro-rosary kami, eh kanina pinutol namin ‘yang pagro-rosary… wala na kasing oras.”
Teng, who fired 28 points to lead all scorers, noted that during the game, the Tigers also lacked focus and were consistently outhustled by the taller Green Archers.
“There were times that we were out of focus, puro reklamo kami,” he said. “La Salle outworked us, they outhustled us talaga sa rebounds. Pati sa 50-50 balls, sila ang nakakakuha, so sila talaga ‘yung mas aggressive ngayong game, kaya sila ang nanalo.”
UST’s championship experience and veteran poise were supposed to be their advantage against La Salle, but Teng admitted that they lost composure during the game.
“May moments, may times na we gave up, nawala ‘yung composure ng team namin. Nagrereklamo kami masyado sa referees,” he said.
Both Jarencio and Teng said they cannot afford to make the same kind of errors in the do-or-die Game 3, set for next Saturday.
“Babawi tayo, ‘yun lang naman kami eh, kapag natalo, babawi. Kapag do-or-die game, iba ang laro. ‘Yan ang team natin,” said Jarencio.
“I told my teammates, we lost today dahil sa effort namin, dahil masama ‘yung effort namin. Pero let’s forget about this, and let’s move on,” added Teng.
Teng is comforted by the knowledge that the Growling Tigers have yet to lose a do-or-die game this season. They won against Ateneo at the end of the elimination round, then stunned the top-seeded National University in the Final Four.
“Charge to experience ‘yan,” he said. “I think we’ve played three do-or-die games, so I think we’re still good sa Game 3. I think lalabas ‘yung pagka-beterano namin.”