PAUL Desiderio was the first to acknowledge that he wasn’t his usual self for Go for Gold in Game One of the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Finals on Thursday.
Coming off a grueling overseas training in Serbia with University of the Philippines and arriving only last Monday, the Cebuano guard struggled to contribute for the Scratchers in the series opener and owned up for his so-so showing.
“Pagod pa rin kasi may jetlag pa ako pagdating namin ng Monday ng gabi,” he said. “Diretso ako sa practice ng umaga kay coach Charles (Tiu). Nung Wednesday, double session ako agad sa Go for Gold at UP. Medyo pagod pa, pero hindi naman excuse yun.”
Desiderio scored three points on 1-of-5 shooting, on top of three assists and two rebounds in 13 minutes of play in Go for Gold’s 100-96 loss to Che’Lu Bar and Grill.
But despite his pedestrian line, the Scratchers were in the game and even led by as many as 15 points, 59-44 in the first half, before Jeff Viernes powered the Revellers in the succeeding frames.
The defeat, Desiderio said, should be an eye-opener for Go for Gold to focus on the prolific Viernes, who torched them for 34 points.
“Kulang lang yung depensa namin sa dulo. Kailangan namin i-stop si Viernes kasi uminit siya eh. Nawala kami sa tempo,” he said.
“Siguro nag-relax kami ng konti kaya nabigyan ng kumpyansa ang Che'Lu. Pero ganoon talaga ang game nila, third quarter, fourth quarter, doon sila umaarangkada. Nag-lack lang kami sa defense kaya doon kami dapat bumawi.”
The Fighting Maroons captain vowed to be a better version of himself for Game Two, with the Scratchers treating that game as a must-win in this best-of-five series.
“Sa Game Two, ibubuhos ko na rin lahat ng kaya ko kasi nahihiya na rin ako kay coach Charles eh. Nagpaalam ako kay coach Bo (Perasol) na lalaro ako dito sa finals, so ibibigay ko na kay coach Charles yung kaya ko sa Game Two.”