Coach Bo says season-ending win is ‘defining moment for UP’

Coach Bo says season-ending win is ‘defining moment for UP’
LOOKING UP. Paul Desiderio and UP are climbing their way, slowly but surely, up the leaderboard.

It was a short-lived celebration for the University of the Philippines.

Two hours and 18 minutes after staying alive in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament, the playoff hopes of the Fighting Maroons were effectively extinguished when Far Eastern University triumphed over Adamson University.

“Wala na naman talaga yung bola sa kamay namin,” head coach Bo Perasol said. “What’s important now is we (had for) ourselves a chance for the playoffs.”

Indeed, a lot had to go right for them to end what is now a 20-year playoff drought.

Heading into today’s gameday, State U was tied with National University at 5-8. A win there then raised their record to 6-8.

Along with that, however, they also needed 6-7 FEU to lose to Adamson.

If such scenario would have happened, FEU and UP, both at 6-8, would have figured in a knockout bout for the fourth and final playoff berth.

Of course, their first playoffs in two decades wasn’t meant to be as they downed NU, 106-81, only to see the Tamaraws gore the Soaring Falcons, 71-54.

Still, Perasol said how they came through in a must-win game was only a good sign for their program. “Ang sabi ko sa kanila, this is going to be a defining moment for our program. If you wanna grow, you have to undergo these kinds of games – knockout games, all for the marbles games – kasi rito mo nage-gain yung confidence mo,” he shared.

He then went on to say how the Fighting Maroons, long used to be at the bottom of the standings, just did not have the experience of how to win. “Lahat ng teams have to overcome high-pressure games. E kami, yung simpleng laro lang, pagdating sa dulo, bumabagsak kami,” he said.

He then continued, “Kaya kailangang merong pinaghuhugutan. They have to remember this experience na, ‘Hey, we have done this already.’”

Indeed, Perasol’s wards got just that and persevered – imposing their will on the also determined Bulldogs from tip-off to final buzzer. “Whatever happens, I’m really proud of how we played this game. All of them really responded well,” he said.

While they are yet to end that 20-year playoff drought, the always amiable mentor said they are on their war there, slowly but surely. “When we began this season, we really had high hopes on getting into the Final Four. Now, here we are and we were just a win away,” he said.

And Perasol has the numbers to back him up as in his first season, he guided State U to a 5-9 record.

Now, they wrap up their campaign at 6-8. “It’s an improvement to what we had last season. So no matter what happens, I believe we added some character to these gentlemen which we are going to hopefully bring into next season,” he said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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