Already down big against the defending champions, UP had to deal with a bigger setback late in the game after seeing Bo Perasol get thrown out of the game.
The head coach was meted a disqualifying foul after running on the court to protest what he thought was a non-call after center Bright Akhuetie fell to the floor midway through the fourth period.
Without him, the Fighting Maroons managed to rattle out an 8-2 run to cut Ateneo’s lead to five, 75-70, before the Blue Eagles recovered and hung on for the win.
Perasol later bared that it might have been a 50-50 call, but he was still going to let the referees hear his thoughts regardless.
“I think it wasn’t an obvious call for me. Sunod-sunod na eh. I think that Bright got fouled there. Probably, I don’t know what was in their minds but I just had to make sure that I am not going to stand in there and watch my team lose, because they were not calling it,” he explained.
“We prepared hard for this. They have to understand that. I think they understand that na you can’t just be inefficient in what you do and let the other parties understand. We have to be efficient with what we do, and we are inefficient. Me as a coach, hindi naman perfect yan eh. But not, hindi naman palagi. Hindi dapat palagi,” he continued.
The team might have had a lot to complain about before Perasol’s ejection. UP only had a total of seven free throw attempts against Ateneo’s 31 for the game. The Blue Eagles capitalized on 26 of those.
However, he did acknowledge that he had no one to blame but himself for the ejection.
“I had to apologize to them because I was the one who lost it. No matter what happens, I think I had to be accountable to them. No matter how bad the calls are going to be, it’s going to happen. The disparity of fouls going to us, the disparity of the free throws that were given. It’s all part of the game. I just had to be better as a coach. I will be with them through those times,” he said.
Despite the tough loss, Perasol gave his boys props for putting up a fight against an Ateneo team hungry for a bounce-back win.
“This is just the second game. I had to commend my guys by fighting over against the defending champions who weren’t expected to lose in the first game but who is ready to get back at anybody. I think that we made sure that we are going to. We fought hard. I think we had the right attitude going to that game, it’s just that we lost this game in the end. We had lots of things that we learned, and this is going to be a learning process, coming over to the next games,” he said.
Their next assignment will be a gutsy UST squad which beat FEU earlier on Wednesday, and Perasol wary of the fact that the Aldin Ayo-coached Tigers could pull the rug under them.
“UST just beat FEU. That’s what I told them. We have to bring some things positive heading to that game. We cannot belittle what UST is doing right now with their new system, new attitude. I think we will be in for a very good fight this coming Sunday,” he said.