Evan Nelle admitted that he needs to raise his game after De La Salle University lost 67-97 to University of the Philippines in game one of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament finals last Wednesday.
The 25-year-old floor general committed two fouls early in the game, which stifled his performance and limited him to just eight points, three rebounds, and two assists.
It was his first time competing in a collegiate finals series since 2019 back when he was a San Beda Red Lion.
Unfortunately, it did not go to plan.
The Green Archers will now have to fight hard to extend the series this Sunday.
“I just think that it went their way. I just wanna review the tape. I’m still lost also. We’ll come up with our own adjustments. We’ll see what went wrong with us – we’ll see what we can adjust to. It’s a series for a reason,” said Nelle, who is a presumptive member of the All-UAAP Season 86 team.
“I was in foul trouble in the first half. I have to adjust to the calls. I have to adjust to everything like how the game is played. That’s on me.”
The Fighting Maroons simply played tougher basketball than the Green Archers.
UP, first off, scored 24 points off La Salle’s 18 turnovers.
The Maroons also nailed nine triples, while the Archers converted only a measly two.
These numbers show how badly the Green Archers played and it remains a big question if they can stop the juggernaut in front of them.
“I just think that their shots were falling,” said Nelle. “Their effort was there. They outhustled us, that’s for sure. Maimai (Cagulangan) played great. Gerry (Abadiano) played great. CJ (Cansino) played great. Harold played great. It was their day. That’s how I say it.
“We’ve got nothing to lose now. Our backs are against the wall so we’re just gonna come out big and give it all we got. We have nothing to lose anymore. Game One is done. We’ll see them in Game Two. We’re the hunters. We’re gonna hunt.”
Throughout the Final Four era, La Salle lost game one of the finals eight times. The Green Archers managed to force a Game 3 four times and won the championship in Seasons 62 and 76.
It remains to be seen how Nelle and this batch of Green Archers will react to their 30-point beatdown. They can still win the championship from here, though – but it will be doubly hard to do so.
“It’s a series,” he said. “We have to move on really quick. No matter how good or how bad we played or even if we won or lost, we still gotta move on. It’s a series. Come tomorrow and the next few days, our mindset’s different.
“We have the hunger to prove ourselves. We don’t want revenge. We just want to improve ourselves. I think our greatest opponent is ourselves. We’ll see the tape. We have to be ready.”