Haydee Ong refused to throw Kent Pastrana under the bus after the latter missed a crucial opportunity to secure the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Basketball Tournament crown for the University of Santo Tomas on Sunday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Pastrana, who had transferred from De La Salle University during the off-season, failed to make a lay-up that would have tied the scores at 72-all for the Growling Tigresses against the NU Lady Bulldogs with 17.4 seconds left.
The Season 86 Mythical Five awardee then missed a three-point basket at the end of the game that could have clinched the championship for UST.
“Kent was very brave,” said Ong. “She made two decisions that didn’t pan out. There’s no need to blame Kent for that. Those were her decisions. They were make or break, right?
“There’s nothing wrong with what Kent did.”
For the second time this season, the Growling Tigresses find themselves competing in a rubber match to fulfill their dreams.
The first time they faced this situation was against the UP Fighting Maroons, whom they defeated in two games in the Final Four to reach their current position.
Ong wants UST to draw from that experience, emphasizing that any advantage would be beneficial as the Growling Tigresses are eager to bring home a crown they last won in Season 69.
“I told the players in the locker room that we’ve been here already,” she said.
“It’s the same scenario as against UP. This Wednesday is a do-or-die game, so let’s see what will happen.”