IT was the same old problem for Letran - the type which haunted them in the previous season.
Ghosts of last season’s semifinals came haunting the Knights anew as they absorbed a disheartening 84-80 loss to the neighboring Lyceum Pirates in the opener of the NCAA Season 95 last Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Knights were actually poised to score an opening-day shocker, as they took a 72-66 lead early in the fourth led by the hot shooting of the returning Jerrick Balanza.
In the end though, it was some costly errors and missed free throws which doomed them - the same things which led to their downfall in their previous campaign.
New Letran head coach Bonnie Tan was obviously not pleased with what he saw.
“We had some costly errors in the endgame, we had a lot of missed free throws, we shot 54 percent sa free throws, medyo masama yun, di ko alam kung opening jitters,” said a dejected Tan after the match.
“Hindi ako happy. We’ve been practicing that, yung mga errors namin kanina, unforced e, simple errors e. Yun ang pinapractice namin all offseason,” he added. “Kumbaga past four months na namin pinapractice yun since I started with Letran so malungkot dahil andami naming nasayang namin na bola.”
If there’s something that Tan can take moving forward, it’s that his stars are about to get better as Balanza and Bonbon Batiller are expected to be better as they continue to recover from injuries.
“Second half nagpick up, tagal niyang nalay-off almost 10 months siyang hindi nagbasketball. Si Bonbon Batiller naman kakarecover lang from a shoulder injury, four months naman siya nagstop,” explained Tan.
“Hopefully makabounce back naman sila next game and I’m expecting that sa dalawang senior players.”
Nonetheless it was a bittersweet return for the 44-year old mentor after a five-year hiatus from the coaching scene.
Co-incidentally, Tan made his return against the Pirates - the school which he handled for 11 years before concentrating on the managerial duties of GlobalPort.
Tan was happy seeing his former team reach the heights that they are in today - and he’s hopeful that they can start picking up the pieces moving forward.
“Of course excited, nung una, weird langna kalaban ko yung Lyceum. I’m happy for them,” said Tan.
“Ngayon it’s a different story, gusto ko naman siyempre manalo. Medyo fail yung resulta sa first game. Marami pa namang games, hopefully makarecover kami.”