UP 'Cramming Maroons'? Coach Bo Perasol looks at positives
MANILA, Philippines – The UP Fighting Maroons stayed on pace for a Final Four return in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament.
Although the team’s 8 wins turned out good enough to bring them to the cusp of another trip to the playoffs, the manner in which they got those wins has not escaped the attention of fans and critics alike.
All of the Maroons’ 8 wins have been decided by no more than 6 points. Three of them have been one-point victories.
However, head coach Bo Perasol isn’t sweating his team’s winning formula this season.
“As I’ve said, the most important aspect of those games was that we were able to win it,” Perasol said after another cardiac 80-77 win against the NU Bulldogs.
“Despite what happened in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th quarter, we win in the last 20, 10 seconds. That matters.”
“That’s what matters the most and for me, we just have to align ourselves,” he continued. “Not because we are lacking in cohesion or chemistry, but because there are styles in our games that gets the other team to get back as quickly as they can. We need to address that.”
True enough, the recurring themes have either been the Maroons faltering early on defense before staging a comeback, or wavering late before barely holding on to the win.
Instead of criticizing his wards, however, Perasol is just looking at it as a positive challenge for them to do better.
“I was telling them that even though we are on the brink of getting into the Final Four, they’re not that just that excited because the expectations of themselves are a little bit higher than that,” he said. “The attitude was 'we really should be there.'”
“I was telling them, we have to count our blessings,” he continued. “We cannot go to the highest point of the competition if we cannot go into another level so this is another level for us. And we are happy for this as Kobe [Paras] said, but we need to be better when we go deeper into the playoffs.”
Since the UST Growling Tigers recently lost to fellow contenders De La Salle – a result that boosted the fifth-running Green Archers’ chances of crashing the semifinals – the Maroons’ Final Four chances may still be in peril in the event that the elimination round ends with a quadruple-tie at 8-6.
This means that UP must win at least one of their final two eliminations games, which just happen to be against La Salle and undefeated Ateneo.
The Blue Eagles (12-0) already pulled away from the rest of the pack while UP (8-4), UST (7-6), FEU (7-6) and La Salle (6-6) continue to slug it out for the last 3 semifinal berths.
For Perasol, the final stretch of the eliminations should be a perfect opportunity for the team to take the next step.
“We’re going up against two great teams,” he said. “First, I just wanna focus on going up against La Salle. They’re coached by a great coach, they have great players as well.”
“It’s going to be tough to stick to the No. 2 spot so we really have to go all out in our last two games.” – Rappler.com