CEBU CITY - Forced to play four games in as many days, the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars have very little left in the tank, no thanks to an odd scheduling scheme.
During the start of the semis on Saturday, the Jaguars faced off against a University of the Visayas side that had been preparing for the semifinals since last week.
Visibly tired and playing on heavy legs, the Jaguars fell behind by 22 before making a gallant push down the stretch to trim it down to a respectable margin, 68-75.
On Sunday, the Jaguars led by as much as 13 but collapsed in the fourth and fell to the University of San Carlos Warriors, 70-81, bringing their hopes of making it to the finals to a bitter end.
USJ-R skipper Nelvin Navarra wondered how the schedule was put together and said that it has put his Jaguars, who are making do with just a 10-man roster, at a disadvantage especially now with the stakes so high.
“It definitely puts us at a disadvantage. It’s already the playoffs, why are they doing this to us?” said the wide-bodied bruiser after scoring 19 against the huge frontline of the Green Lancers.
USJ-R lost to the Cebu Institute of Technology-University Wildcats, 66-68, on Thursday, a result that forced a deciding quarterfinal match the following day. They blew out the Wildcats, 83-68, to enter the semifinals, which began on Saturday.
“Why are they doing this at this point of the season? It’s already the semifinals and we weren’t given the time to even prepare a game plan,” added the skipper.
Still, Navarra said that this would not stop them from giving it their very best.
“We’re a little fatigued but it will all fade away once the games start. We’re tired but this is the schedule that we were given and we will just play our best,” Navarra added.
Head coach Jun Noel, in a brief talk before their game against UV, acknowledged that the schedule has already taken a toll on his players and that he and the rest of the coaching staff, are continually motivating them to keep on playing hard in spite of the circumstances.
“Motivation lang talaga. I keep on telling them to stay positive,” said the veteran coach.