Aris Dimaunahan is determined to emphasize to National University that they must play until the final buzzer to keep their eight-peat championship dreams alive in the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Dimaunahan, who led NU to the crown back in Season 85, made it a point to reiterate this after a particular moment in game one.
With the defending champions down 71-75 with 19.9 seconds left in the contest, Angel Surada stepped up to take two free throws, only to split them.
The former interim Blackwater head coach then quickly called Surada to try to raise her spirits but they ended up losing 72-76 to the Growling Tigresses in game one.
Now that NU is fighting for survival in this series, Dimaunahan wants the Lady Bulldogs to remember that they should never give up during the game.
“I told Surada that the game was not yet over. We still had precious time left and we still could have turned the game around,” he said.
“I always believe this game has to be played at the final buzzer regardless of the score. Again, we showed in the past that we could still win games with 1.2 or 0.8 seconds left.”
The Lady Bulldogs are facing their biggest test in years.
They had not experienced a game one loss in the finals since Season 76, when the De La Salle Lady Archers eventually annexed the championship at their expense.
NU will need to toughen itself up mentally to prove it can bounce back strongly against UST starting this Sunday.
“Again, these young kids are emotional. They would cry if they made a mistake. But again, this is basketball. People commit mistakes and life doesn’t stop there. You have to move on,” said Dimaunahan.
“That’s what I’m preaching to them. The game is not a perfect game. You’ll commit mistakes here and there but how well you recover will define you as a person, as a player. It’s all part of the game.”
NU is definitely in uncharted territory, but that does not mean that it will waive the white flag and allow UST to just win the championship.
The Lady Bulldogs can further cement their legacy by showing that they can bounce back at the biggest stage. They only need to win game two and it will be anyone’s ballgame come game three.
“This is part of the game. Again, in the game of basketball, somebody wins and somebody learns and today we had a learning spot but this loss doesn’t define us,” said Dimaunahan.
“I just told the team what would define us is how well we bounce back from this defeat. Again, the series is not yet over. We still have games to be played. We’ll try to make the right adjustments come game two.”