Jermaine Byrd cut an animated figure throughout his team’s first game in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The 39-year-old barked instruction after instruction at his De La Salle University Green Archers, as they started their campaign against the defending champions and archrivals Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Unfortunately, for him and the rest of the Lasallian community, it was an afternoon to forget. The Green Archers were walloped 69-81 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It was a good game. Both teams fought hard.
“I think the second quarter kind of hurt us. We didn’t score, we put them on the foul line. But I’m proud of my team. The best thing about is that we play again in two days, so we can forget about this one (and) get ready for the next one,” said Byrd.
Yes, that second quarter. That was the point of no return, the period when everything fell apart for the Green Archers. La Salle were so bad that Ateneo outscored them 28-8. It simply became a mountain too high for the Green Archers.
“The second quarter hurt us. We just put them on the foul line. I’m not gonna complain about the refereeing — the refereeing was amazing. I just thought we put them on the foul line. We weren’t disciplined in the defensive schemes that we tried,” said the Houston, Texas, native.
Byrd then dismissed the notion that a lack of team chemistry was the downfall of his team tonight. He also shared that the use of 14 players was by design due to this season’s tight scheduling because of the upcoming SEA Games.
“It was fun. I mean, I’m being honest — it was amazing. I can’t wait to play (Ateneo) again but I’m not gonna fast forward.
“I’m gonna worry about Wednesday, but it was fun. It was everything and more that I thought it would be. It was amazing,” said the University of Sioux Falls alumnus.
Perhaps the experience became more memorable for Byrd since he was trying to outsmart Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
“It was good. He’s a great coach. He’s by far the best coach I’ve gone up against head-to-head.
“I spent some time in the NBA, spent some time in the G-League. He’s a very, very amazing coach. He doesn’t get rattled. His team is well-prepared, his team is well disciplined. You can tell they’re the defending champions. They didn’t rattle,” he explained.
Byrd, however, refused to elaborate on his short chat with Baldwin after the game.
“I’ll just keep that between me and him, but I have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of respect for all the coaches in this league. This is a very good league, this is an amazing league. The players play hard, the coaches are amazing. But he just kind of shared a moment and I look forward to playing against him again,” said the former Samsung Blue Minx development coach.
Next on the horizon for La Salle is a game against the NU Bulldogs, another team that hopes to bounce back after a heartbreaking defeat. Fortunately, though, Byrd is raring to go.
“The next game, we just need to improve on when we hit adversity when we have to adjust to the officiating. I think we fouled too much in the second quarter. If we would have the whole game the way we played the third and the fourth quarter, I like our chances.”