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Santos expects tireless effort from young Golden Stags

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Coming off a 5-13 finish last NCAA Season, the San Sebastian Golden Stags knew that it will take more time to establish themselves as perennial title contenders in the post-Pinatubo Trio era.

But their optimism never wavered as the Stags never showed signs of letting up and they remained one of the most hardworking teams of the league despite fielding in a lot of younger players and newcomers entering this season.

In their NCAA Season 91 debut, the Stags almost scored an upset after taking an early lead against the more experienced Mapua Cardinals. However, the fatigue and the inexperience of their young roster led to a tough 86-88 defeat. In that game, veteran Jamil Ortouste led the way with 21 points while Mark Calisaan had 19 points and 8 rebounds.

Despite losing their opening game, newly-appointed head coach Rodney “The Slasher” Santos was all praises for his young group as they fought relentlessly until the game was over. He also added that if his second unit was more experienced, it would have given enough breathing room for his starters to finish off the game with enough energy and avoid giving them heavy minutes most of the time.

“Sabi ko sa mga players ko na importante for our second group to step up since fatigued na ang starters pagdating ng fourth quarter. Pero hats off ako sa kanila kasi they gave it their all kahit pagod. Kung baga sabi ko na it’s not that ‘I don’t trust them, it’s just that they’re all first timers,’” shared Santos when asked about his thoughts for his NCAA coaching debut. “Mahirap talaga silang ilagay sa ganoong sitwasyon so I decided to stay with my starters. Iyon nga lang, ang breaks of the game, as a basketball player kailangan mong ma-experience iyan.”

“Kailangan maging matured sila sa ganoong sitwasyon. Pero hats off to them since alam ko na maski pagod sila, they played their hearts out.”

Moreover, Santos pointed out that his Stags never backed down from the challenge that Mapua gave them. When the Cardinals’ defensive-minded import Allwell Oraeme, who punched in a monster stat line of 15 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks, was imposing his will in the paint, Baste did not falter and continued to slash for hard drives to the basket despite getting denied in a lot of possessions.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Santos expects tireless effort from young Golden Stags    “Hindi sila natakot kahit may malaking import sa loob. Kung makikita niyo ang daming blocks ni Oraeme pero that was my instruction to take it to them,” added Santos. “Either you get blocked or beat it. Ayaw ko kasi ‘yung makakita sila ng malaki at matakot sila magdrive. Hindi sila umaayaw at kahit pagod they tried to play.”

While Baste’s season is still in its early stages, Santos insists that the school has the goal of landing a playoff spot in this tournament. The goal may be challenging given the presence of other established contenders, but he remarked that hardwork can always outwork the more talented teams in the league. Furthermore, he wants his players to just enjoy playing the game and maintain their composure when the going gets tight.

“Siyempre, ang gusto ng school is [to enter the] Final Four or better than last year. Gusto ng community is at least a top four slot,” remarked Santos. “I can’t promise them anything but I can promise that we will compete and magiging masaya tayong manalo, magiging masaya pa rin kahit talo at makikita niyong lumalaban kami.”

Tomorrow, the Golden Stags will face a bigger challenge in their upcoming game against the defending champion San Beda Red Lions. Given San Bedia’s torrid scoring in their previous games, Santos himself admits that it will be a baptism of fire for his young Stags. But showing no signs of fear, he wants to see the fight in them like many other Stags before.

“San Beda is a powerhouse team and sabi ko naman na walang team ang mahina dito sa NCAA. Lahat naman ng mga kalaban natin malakas so it’s a battle of willingness and who wants the win more. Who knows? Just play with your heart kagaya noong nilaro nila [against Mapua] and kung kailangan pa nila idagdag against San Beda, baka mag-iba pa ang sitwasyon.”

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