University of the East is finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
After beating the De La Salle Green Archers, 81-74, this evening, the Red Warriors have now knocked down two of last season’s Final Four. They had an earlier victory over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws.
For coach Jack Santiago, there is a strong feeling of pride after he saw his boys defeat one of the league’s perennial title contenders.
“I instructed my boys to be part of the history,” said the Mapua University alumnus. “We all know the last time na nanalo ata UE vs La Salle was how many years ago an. Especially yung first game natin, nanalo NU against UP… Maybe na-inspire ang mga bata to be part of the history also.
“Sabihin natin upset yung first game, ginawa namin lahat ng magagawa namin to beat the La Salle team. Sabi ko nga, just follow my instructions. Whatever happens, just follow ang instruction namin.”
Tonight’s victory was the Red Warriors’ first over the Green Archers since the Rey Suerte game-winner back in Season 82.
Truth be told, the warning signs were there back in Season 84 when La Salle needed overtime to defeat UE.
Indeed, both schools are systemically closer because of the coaching ties that bind.
“Alam naman natin na si Manong Derrick, he’s a very disciplined coach. The system we are having right now is almost the same kay Manong Derrick,” said Santiago. “I’ve been an assistant coach of coach Franz Pumaren for how many years, and I’m just continuing the system of Coach Franz. Kumbaga most of the time, it’s the system ng mga Pumaren ang ginagamit ko.”
“I challenged them sa dugout kanina to be part of this season na we beat a big team like La Salle, and they did it. That’s why I’m so happy and proud of the boys.”
Now with a 2-2 win-loss record, UE knows that it has turned a leaf over its dismal Season 84 campaign.
The Red Warriors will be careful not to pronounce any bid for a Final Four ticket. Still, they undoubtedly will go for it.
“I’m very happy about this win. Good teamwork and just following coach Jack’s system and that’s the game you’ll get,” said Kyle Paranada who scored 20 points to lead the Recto school – 13 of which came in the final quarter, including the three-point play that sealed the deal. “This is a big confidence [booster] for us personally because that’s a good Final Four team, possibly a championship team.
“For us to beat them, that’s good confidence for me and my team.”