Mark Nonoy’s phenomenal outing in his first Finals appearance went for naught, as the University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tigers still fell short against the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles, 91-77, in Game One of the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament finale.
UST head coach Aldin Ayo said his players did everything they could against the tournament sweep-seeking team, and the blame should be handed to himself and his coaching staff.
“We played bad, really bad. We were not executing. Some players did not play their usual game. But I think, the problem is coaching staff. Tingin ko we were not able to prepare them well. There were situations na hindi namin nadaanan sa practice so, on our part, we just want to be patient. I told the players that we just have to handle this loss the right way. That means going back to our videos and titignan namin kung ano yung mali. We have to correct them. We have three days to prepare for Wednesday,” he shared after the match.
The youth-laden UST squad had a cinderella-run in Season 82, as they bested six other squads with far more experience, just to set up a Finals clash against Ateneo. Ayo commended his players’ valiant stand, and said he needs to come up with a better game plan to prepare them for Game 2.
“Finals is a different atmosphere. But as I told you, we have to be patient. Whatever it is, you can’t blame the players. Trabaho ng coaching staff to simulate things. Sa abot ng makakaya namin, we are going to do that. Pero yung mga players, they did everything that they could. Hindi lang talaga lumabas yung laro. Sa ganitong situation, coaching yung may pananagot diyan,” he said.
UST once again relied on the long ball, taking 40 attempts as a team from behind the arc. But the Tigers only completed 34 percent of those tries, as Berent Paraiso was the only one who got it going after hitting four triples/.
“Well, that’s our game. We are not going to change that,” Ayo said.
“Kung titignan mo yung Ateneo, if you want to beat them, you have to make those threes. If you don’t, then papabalikin at papapabalikin lang nila yung bola sa harap mo. So, let’s see. Titignan din namin yung system namin and, of course, palagi namang may butas yan. We have to look at those weaknesses we can exploit.”
Thirdy Ravena was the biggest thorn on the side for UST, torching the Espana-based squad with 32 points on Saturday.
Ayo, however, said his team should not focus on stopping Ravena alone, but come up with a total team effort on defense in Game 2.
“It’s not about Thirdy e. If we want to stop them, well we have to stop the whole team. If you focus on Thirdy only, the other guys will step up also. Ngayon, nandun yung points ni Thirdy because of our transition defense. He played well. This is his last year. Hopefully, we can cover him on Wednesday,” he said.
UST will be in familiar territory once more in Game 2, as they figure in their fourth elimination game of the season. But Ayo downplayed their previous close-out wins, claiming it won’t have much bearing against a team as formidable as Ateneo.
“It won’t matter because it depends kung sino kalaban mo. You cannot compare other elimination games because it’s different. Walang basehan yun.”