Boy Sablan confident young Tigers can regain top form despite lopsided loss in Premier Cup opener
UST coach Boy Sablan admitted his young team was rusty in the Tigers opening loss to the Blue Eagles in the Filoil preseason tournament. Dante Peralta

UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas coach Boy Sablan remained patient with the Growling Tigers, confident the team will eventually reach their potential following the lopsided defeat in theirFiloil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup debut.

The Tigers got a rude reception in the Filoil preseason tilt, their first tournament in months since finishing second in the Republica Cup in Malolos, Bulacan, as they suffered an 89-72 defeat against Ateneo on Friday.

Sablan, though, optimistic UST will get its groove back in time as they play more games in the Filoil tournament.

“Ang unang liga naming sinalihan is Republica Cup lang. Mag-jejell pa lang ‘yung rookies at veterans. In a span of four months, six games pa lang kami. Dun pa lang nagkakasama at nagkakakilala,” said Sablan.

The long lay-off appeared to have a major effect on the squad as the Growling Tigers shot just 39 percent from the field including a 19-of-44 output from two-point range.

Another factor in UST’s defeat, according to Sablan, was the absence of Steve Akomo in practice as he had to attend a wedding. He returned to the country last Wednesday night, and returned to training only the next day.

“Hindi ako naghahanap ng reason pero malaking bagay na hindi siya nag-ensayo,” said Sablan.

The UST coach is also using the Filoil tournament as a tryout as he fills up his final roster for the coming UAAP season.

UST takes on University of the East on Wednesday as the Growling Tigers resume play in the Filoil preseason tournament.

“Start pa lang magkakakilala ‘yung rookies at veterans. Kita nyo naman kung gaano karami. Wala namang official line-up diyan sa UAAP. Eto ‘yung pinakatryout nila. Gusto namin makita kung rookie ba puwede na this season o veteran, may kailangang ibaba next year,” said Sablan.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports