KAI Sotto said Ateneo must show its championship pedigree if it wants to keep its repeat bid alive in the UAAP Season 81 juniors' basketball finals.
The newly-minted UAAP Juniors MVP hurled the challenge to the Blue Eaglets following their 70-58 Game 1 defeat to the National University Bullpups that left them in a do-or-die situation in Game Two on Friday.
"May mga lapses kami sa defense na parang masyadong naging madali sa mga big man ng NU ang laro. Kailangan namin mag-improve pa doon," he said.
Carl Tamayo fired 15 points and 12 rebounds while Kevin Quiambao scattered 14 points and 13 boards as the NU twin tower combo caged Sotto for most of the game.
In contrast, the 7-foot-1 prodigy mustered 16 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks, and three assists, but had to bleed for his points.
What hurt the Blue Eagles the most were 21 turnovers which the Bullpups turned to 27 easy points. Sotto committed five turnovers while lead playmaker Forthsky Padrigao alone turned the ball over eight times.
The Ateneo duo's errors already matched the 11 turnovers NU had for the entire game.
"Nandoon yung effort, kaso may mga times lang na parang na-outwork nila kami. Parang nawawala yung effort minsan, or minsan inconsistent. Minsan nandoon yung effort, pero yung pagiisip nawawala kaya kailangan naming balansehin," he said.
NU has defeated Ateneo in their three matchups this season. One more win and the Blue Eaglets will be dethroned.
A defiant Sotto said it's all in the mind as he keeps his belief that Ateneo has what it takes to hurdle NU and force a winner-take-all Game Three.
"Kailangan na ang iisipin namin lagi na angat kami sa kanila," he said.