It was the same old story for the University of the Philippines on Saturday.
The Fighting Maroons established a 20-point advantage early on against Far Eastern University only to give it up and eventually end up at the losing end.
The big-time upset of the defending champions may have very well boosted State U as close as they have recently been to the Final Four. Instead, the heartbreaking loss dropped them to 3-8 – still alive, but with their fate slipping out of their hands.
Disappointment has been nothing new for UP. As team captain Jett Manuel put it, “It was a tough loss. Frustrating, it was frustrating because we knew we deserved to win this game.”
He then continued, “I think that hurts more – knowing that we should’ve won and then losing.”
Although it was his willing in of a triple that kept the Maroons threatening until the dying seconds, the graduating guard said he took full responsibility for yet another heartbreak. “I have to charge this to experience. I think I have to put more responsibility (on myself) as the leader to challenge the other leaders that we have to lift the other players because I expect more from them,” he said.
He also added, “They deserve to be better players and we deserve to be a better team.”
Indeed, as usual, Manuel and Paul Desiderio were the only effective offensive options for State U with 16 and 13 points, respectively.
For his part, however, coach Bo Perasol said that aside from Manuel and Desiderio, UP is actually mostly made up of youngsters. “I think that was one game that we should have won in a way, but I think we lacked the composure and the experience. I’m just positive that we can be able to get that experience as the tournament progresses, he said.
With that in mind, the first-year head coach also reminded everybody that their goal has always been to do better in all aspects of the game. “We actually haven’t thought about (Final Four). What we want to do is improve our position (compared to) the past few years,” he said.
He then continued, “And we’re right on track to be able to surpass that.”
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