Karim Abdul unconcerned about being best import, focused on UST’s goals
MANILA, Philippines – Karim Abdul and his UST Growling Tigers have been close to unstoppable in the UAAP Season 78 Senior’s basketball tournament.
Eight games into their campaign, the Growling Tigers have raced off to a 7-1 record and are in prime position to obtain one of the top two seeds that would give them a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four round.
Though Abdul has taken a backseat to allow more shots for MVP candidates Ed Daquioag and Kevin Ferrer, he’s still been having a solid season with averages of 10.6 points and 8.9 rebounds a game.
“Especially the veterans; it’s our last years, so we just want to win the championship so bad,” said the fifth-year man. “First, we want to be in the top two to have the twice to beat advantage and have a favorable position to win the championship.”
He also said: “One thing for sure is that this team has exploding potential, so every game, whatever happens, we’re going to make sure that we fight and even if it’s not so good, but like Kevin said, we’ll still fight.”
That “exploding potential” was in display during both victories against DLSU.
In their round one win over the Green Archers, UST erased a 14-point deficit and wound up winning by 16. During their round two match on Sunday, October 11, UST erased an 11-point deficit in the third quarter and won by two.
There’s quite some history between DLSU and UST. Both teams met in the finals of the 2013 UAAP season, where La Salle bounced back after dropping game one to win the final two games and the championship.
A year before, in 2012, UST was swept in the finals by the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
“Yeah, I mean, in the UAAP La Salle and Ateneo are considered big things, so of course winning [against] them is really [fun],” Abdul said last Sunday, “and it’s nice to be able to beat them (DLSU) twice, because actually we were just expecting to beat them once.
“Now that we beat them twice, it’s good,” added Abdul, who’s averaged 15.5 points and 12 boards a contest against the Green Archers this season.
Up next on UST's schedule are the NU Bulldogs, who so far are the only team to have beaten the Growling Tigers. That took place in the middle of the first round, when a tough, step-back jumper by Alfred Aroga helped his team seal their first win of the season.
“One, against NU, we were also expecting to get one win against them, so they got one against us, so we must get this one against them,” explained Abdul.
“We’re going to go out full force. As in, full force. We’re not going to rest. We’re really going to prepare for NU.”
A matchup to watch between both teams is the duel between Alfred Aroga, last year’s UAAP Finals MVP, and Abdul. The NU big is averaging 13.3 points and 12.3 rebounds a game this season, with some pundits saying he’s clearly the best import the UAAP has to offer.
In past seasons, some argued that designation belonged to Abdul, but the debate of who’s better isn’t something he’s dwelling on.
“I don’t know. I mean, being [the] best, it’s good for him, right?” said UST’s starting center. “As an individual player, that’s good, but as a team player, winning counts the most, right? So if he’s the better player, then be it, but we’re 7-1.”
The Growling Tigers take on the Bulldogs on Saturday, October 17. – Rappler.com