Tigers, Archers shun NBA festivities as Game 3 nears
MANILA, Philippines – As NBA mania grips the country, UAAP Season 76 men's basketball finals protagonists Santo Tomas and La Salle prefer to stay clear of the hoopla as they gear up both on the technical and mental aspects heading to Saturday's deciding Game Three.
Coaches Pido Jarencio of UST and Juno Sauler of La Salle said they are focused enough on the upcoming KO match that they wouldn't want to get caught up with and distracted by the highly-anticipated NBA pre-season tussle between the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers set on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"Naka-dorm kami, sama-sama kami lahat dun, pati practice umaga't hapon. Kaya siguro wala na silang time pumunta dun (We're staying together in the dorm and we practice twice a day so there's really no time to watch the NBA live)," said Jarencio, who jokingly added he has a cockfighting derby that day that he also would have to skip.
"Hindi naman tayo ang maglalaro dito. Sabi ko dito na lang tayo focus. Baka kung ano-ano pa ang gawin niyo, gayahin ang tira ni (James) Harden, magkahirapan pa tayo (Anyway, we don't play the NBA style here. I told them to focus on Game Three. If they watch the NBA, they might try all kinds of shots ala James Harden, that might get us into trouble)," he added.
Sauler related a similar activity involving a previous NBA superstar who visited the country, one which the Archers also shunned to attend to their UAAP duties.
"I remember when LeBron (James) came, we were invited but we had to prioritize practice so we won't also be going (to the NBA)," he said.
The two coaches agree that their title series – locked at 1-1 after the Archers' 77-70 win last Saturday – will really boil down to who is better prepared and mentally tougher.
"I don't know if there's some momentum on our side but what we just focus on is the game on Saturday. Momentum or no momentum, it will take preparation and mental toughness and that will make the difference this Saturday," said Sauler.
"For me, walang momentum-momentum dito, ibig sabihin, winner-take-all ito, parehas na lang (Momentum is no longer a factor in this winner-in-take-all. It's more on preparation, yung mental toughness saka kung sino yung mas gusto manalo (which one is mentally tough and wants it more)," said Jarencio.
One of the things that Jarencio's Tigers have to adjust to is keeping away from foul woes. In Game Two, big men Karim Abdul and Paulo Pe got into early foul trouble, a situation that the Archers were quick to pounce on.
Jarencio wouldn't want to dispute the calls anymore at this stage. "Wala naman. Judgment calls yun, tinawag na, wala na tayong magagawa dun. Siguro ingat na lang, limit namin fouls namin (Those were judgement calls. Maybe what we can do is adjust to the referees and stay away from foul trouble, limit our fouls)."