Still, the first-year Fighting Maroon did not miss a game afterward. He even had averages of 17.42 points, 5.67 rebounds, 1.92 assists, 1.17 steals, and 1.33 blocks per game to lead UP to the second seed.
Sunday afternoon, though, it seemed all that effort has taken its toll on the 22-year-old forward.
For the first time this season, Paras was held down to a single-digit scoring output. He finished with just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field.
Fourth-year Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol said that people should cut Paras some slack, since he is still battling through the injury despite keeping a facade that he is okay.
“Well he’s really struggling, kasi the truth of the matter is, kahit nagpahinga siya, talagang he’s really struggling with his injury. Pinipilit niya lang talaga. ‘Yung shoulder niya,” disclosed Perasol after UP’s 69-89 loss to UST last Sunday that sent the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Stepladder Semifinals to a do-or-die game.
“So there were a lot of times that he wasn’t able to practice. But that’s a reality of the game eh. We just have to play through that no matter what happens.”
But Paras’ off-night was not the sole reason for UP’s harsh loss to UST.
According to the veteran tactician, their way of playing would only get them through a few elimination round games, not the playoffs.
“The reality is, UST is going to beat us if we are going to play that way. If we’re just going to be ourselves and we play that way, it has nothing to do with what we did not do, or what we did not follow in our game plan. Wala lang, parang regular lang na nangyari, and then this is UST. Ito si UP, and’yan lang. It’s bound to happen,” he opined ,as UST ran roughshod over them the entire 40 minutes of the contest.
“It has nothing to do with whatever.”
It’s not just Paras who has an injury in UP, either. Juan Gomez de Liano, Ricci Rivero, and Bright Akhuetie have been battling through pains as well.
And so on Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Perasol hopes that a sense of urgency kicks in for the rest of his team. A loss will send their once-hopeful season down to misery.
“It has to be everybody else. If they are doing that and the others are not doing their jobs, we are just going to be outscored and out-hustled. It couldn’t be one, two, or three players, it has to be everybody. Against a team that is aggressive, we have to at least match that or be better than them.”
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