When it rains, it pours and for De La Salle University, a campaign that had so much promise is sinking game after game in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Against archrival Ateneo de Manila University, Derrick Pumaren’s men were humbled 54-68, which further got them away from their goal of making it to the Final Four.
“We were there but in the third quarter, the eruption of Ateneo, we weren’t able to contain it or even match their intensity so that’s on us. We had a lot of turnovers I think in the third quarter. That’s on me,” said Evan Nelle. “We just have to regroup. This break is actually really good for us. Our team will get all the injured players (back), (fix) whatever we’re dealing with.
“We could just regroup and come back stronger for our remaining games, for our last push.”
Nelle, who was La Salle’s main bright spot with 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, came off from a suspension the Taft school’s loss to Far Eastern University after incurring three unsportsmanlike fouls in the first round.
“I think I was just gigil. I really wanted to come off strong. That’s the immaturity in me. I need to learn again. I need to play smarter para ma-kontrol ko yung game tsaka di na ako ma-suspend,” said the NCAA Season 95 Mythical Five member.
“Actually, Commissioner (Dickie) Bachmann talked to me naman and the infraction that I did nung game, I knew naman there was gonna be another suspension if I had another unsportsmanlike (foul),” he continued.
“When I did it, you could see my reaction again. Medyo na-down ako agad. It was in my head already that I got suspended again. I can’t help my team.”
The Green Archers are now 3-6 in the standings on the back of four straight losses. Any dreams of winning a first championship since Season 79 have been put on hold.
While La Salle can theoretically turn things around with five games left in the elimination round, they will need to improve drastically to pull off an impressive comeback.
“I’m still rooting for our team. I still think we’re one of the deepest teams. Ang dami lang adversity. Ang dami lang injuries. Ilang laro lang kaming kompleto,” said Nelle.
“I’m not making an excuse for the way we’re playing. We’re losing fair and square. I just think na once we come back healthy and fresh off this break, I hope it will be a different game.”