Before University of the Philippines squared off against Ateneo de Manila University in the game two of the UAAP Season 84 Men’s Basketball Tournament finals, there was a sense of destiny that it could be the Fighting Maroons’ day to celebrate ending a 36-year title drought.
However, the Blue Eagles made stiff resistance to as they extended the series to a third game this Friday.
For UP coach Goldwin Monteverde, disappointment lingered, not just at the result itself but how his boys played on the floor.
“Sa akin for this game, medyo slow yung start namin. Yung defense namin was not that tight di tulad ng fourth quarter kanina. Yung consistency namin on that part, kailangan mag-improve,” said Monteverde.
“We needed to be more responsible dun sa bola kase madami kaming turnovers. Siguro improve din sa mga reads namin on the floor. Yun lang naman yung nasa isip ko.”
There were times in the game when the Fighting Maroons squandered their hard-fought momentum thanks to poor shot selection and decision-making on the floor.
This was epitomized late in the game when Ricci Rivero wasted 12 seconds on the clock while trying to make an attempt at the hoop with UP down by five points, which effectively won Ateneo the game.
Monteverde, though, took the high road and refused to throw his co-captain under the bus.
“Wala naman. Okay naman. I think mali namin yun. Sa aming coaching staff, we should have reminded him about that situation. Hindi naman kay Ricci yun,” said the former National University Bullpups mentor.
“I see it na sa part namin dapat nanggaling yung situation. We should have reminded him yung oras, yung score.”
With all the marbles to play for, the St. Stephen High School alumnus knows that the Fighting Maroons need to play a perfect game once again to beat Ateneo and seize the championship.
It will no doubt be another difficult challenge, but it is one he, his fellow coaches, and players are willing to undergo if it means being immortals for UP.
“For one thing, yung team kase takes pride na we never give up in games, whatever the score is,” said Monteverde. “Lumalaban kami hanggang dulo. Pero sa akin, ang biggest takeway nito, whatever mistakes we made awhile ago, nasanay kami na every time after a game, kung ano mga mali, alam namin na dun kami mag-i-improve and definitely we’re gonna work on it.”
“Kahit na yung pagitan ng game one day lang, we still talk about things and really work hard for it.”