It was a ‘bad day’ for University of Santo Tomas after absorbing its first loss of the season with a four-set defeat to University of the Philippines, 21-25, 25-23, 21-25, 22-25, on Tuesday morning.
Head coach Kungfu Reyes claimed that he tried using a different combination of players during the match after seeing his first unit struggle on the court against the Fighting Maroons. However, it still didn’t work as the Golden Tigresses failed to bounce back in the third and fourth sets which eventually led to the loss.
“Medyo madaming mga bagay na player mismo ang makakasagot pero on our side, medyo bad day eh — bad game,” he said. “Tina-try namin na may makita sa kanila that’s why andami naming substitutions na nagawa. ‘Yun na nga ‘dun palang sa transition ng player namin, almost kalahati ng first unit namin nasa labas.
“Pinaglaro nalang namin mga second unit namin pero para makita nila kung pano gumalaw ‘yung mga tao namin sa loob at kung ano ‘yung mga nawawala.”
Amid their tough outing, Reyes shared that his players were still able to get their rhythm going as they mounted some runs during the game. However, their 35 unforced errors eventually halted their momentum and plagued them for the remainder of the contest.
“So maraming habol na maganda pero ‘yung momentum kami mismo ‘yung nag-bebreak. ‘Yung mga turning point supposedly na kaya namin, kami din ang pumuputol so very uncharacteristic na fourth set we had 35 unforced errors,” he admitted.
“So ‘di talaga kami mananalo, considering na we were down by four points first set, third set four points, nitong last is three points so san nanggagaling ‘yung stat na ‘yun na 35 points na error namin.”
Eya Laure was the lone bright spot for the Golden Tigresses after scoring a career-high 28 points on 25 attacks, two aces, and a block. However, she failed to receive help from her supporting cast as no other UST player scored in double digits.
Donna Tuazon and Camilla Victoria followed with nine and seven points, respectively.
Reyes had a mixed bag of reactions after seeing the point distribution of his team against UP. Though it was impressive for Laure to have such a high level of production, the tenured mentor still wants to see his other players contribute on the offensive end.
“Good sign, somehow, kasi very reliable naman ‘yung player na ‘yun. Kasi ang wino-worry namin is ‘yung output ‘nung mga natutulong na nakukuhang output sa pag-score so ‘yun ang nagiging dilemma so good thing and bad thing para sa support system. ‘Yun ung medyo nawala — actually hindi medyo — nawala talaga for today’s game.”
Notably, the Golden Tigresses continue to miss the services of Imee Hernandez who tweaked her ankle in their first game of the season against FEU. Reyes bared that the playing status of the 21-year-old middle blocker remains up in the air but they are still continuing to evaluate her situation to determine the timetable of her return.
“Yun ang tinatrabaho ng sports therapist natin at tsaka ‘yung strength and conditioning coach. Kanina kasi tinry namin na maramdaman niya ulit ‘yung feel niya ng court so sumama siya sa warmup,” he shared.
“Mayroong series of evaluation na ginagawa, malalaman namin ‘yan bukas kung fit na maglaro or hindi pa kasi hindi naman namin isusugal ‘yung physical niya para dun sa larong ‘yun na ma-sasacrifice ‘yung buong season,” Reyes continued. “So let’s see kung magkakaroon siya ng clearance sa strength and conditioning coach namin then papalaruin namin siya.”
With or without Hernandez, the Golden Tigresses are hoping to bounce back as they aim to learn from this experience and have a better performance in their upcoming game against La Salle on Thursday evening.
“Yung mindset kasi okay lang naman ‘yung medyo malambot, kasi ganon talaga, pero kasi kailangan namin mag-recover again siyempre kasi its another day, another game,” he stressed. “
“So kailangan naming matuto ‘dun sa nangyari ngayon kung hindi wala kami natutunan ‘dun, wala lugi. At least yung experience nandun na, especially ‘dun sa dalawang rookie na medyo maganda ganda ‘yung playing time. And hopefully ‘yung seniors namin maramdaman nila na kailangan sila ng team.”
Though it was a tough defeat, Reyes remained defiant in getting back to the win column as soon as possible as they brace for a string of tough opponents in their upcoming games moving forward.
“Napakahirap, very uncharacteristic ‘yung error na ‘yun pero sabi nga nangyayari eh that’s why nandito kami sa lugar na ‘to. Medyo mabigat nga, puwedeng ipanalo pero it goes the other way around. Ang kailangan nalang namin is makabalik kami by Thursday, eh medyo mabigatan na ‘yung labanan.”