LETRAN coach Jeff Napa reiterated his faith on his veterans despite the endgame blunders that doomed his side on Friday.
“Actually, ganoon naman talaga. Pagdating sa crucial moments, players ang nagde-decide. Andito lang kami to guide. Yun ang decision ng players, wala ako sa posisyon para kwestyunin yun,” he said after the Knights’ shock 78-75 defeat to the Altas to open their campaign in NCAA Season 94.
“This game, ganoon yung decision nila eh. Di ko kukwestyunin yun. Medyo malaki ang tiwala ko sa mga players. Kung naka-shoot sila, eh di iba ang usapan. Di lang nahulog kaya naging ganoon ang turnout ng game.”
Letran went on a drought from the seven-minute, 11-second mark of the fourth quarter to the final buzzer as Perpetual finished the game on a 13-2 flurry. That stretch saw it squander an eight-point lead, 73-65 with seven minutes to play and failed to convert on its crucial plays in the clutch.
With the Altas holding a slim 77-75 lead in the final minute, JP Calvo made a gutsy yet puzzling drive which was easily stifled by Prince Eze, leading to a split from the line from Edgar Charcos to put their side up three with 13.2 seconds left.
Given one last chance to tie the game, Bong Quinto drove against Eze, which was also blocked, before Calvo lost the ball on his desperation three as the game clock expired.
Though defeated, Napa knows that this tough game against Perpetual is just the tip of the iceberg for what is shaping up to be another grindout of a season for Letran.
“Lahat naman fancied team. Mahirap talaga ang pagdadaanan namin. Alam namin na yung Perpetual talaga, very strong team sila. Hindi lang sa amin napunta ang pabor,” he said.
But he doubled down on his confidence on his side, believing that the Knights are more than capable to bounce back in the next games, starting against Mapua on Tuesday.
“Meron pang ibubuga yan. Kailangan lang talaga naming pagbutihan pa. Kung kulang pa ang effort namin ngayon, kailangan pa namin pagbutihan para coming to next game, well-prepared kami at di na mauulit yung gantong sitwasyon,” he said.
“Time to move on, focus on our next game na lang at wag na maulit yung mistakes na nangyari sa amin today.”