NATIONAL University coach Eric Altamirano admitted his team lost composure in the face of the physicality shown by University of Santo Tomas, but remains confident the Bulldogs can bounce back in their Final Four showdown.
Altamirano said his team failed to match UST’s aggressiveness and physicaliy early in the game, leaving them to play catchup the rest of the way after an 11-1 start by the Growling Tigers on Sunday.
UST went on to win 71-62 to force a sudden death on Saturday for a place in the UAAP Finals.
“UST really showed the championship experience,” said Altamirano. “Obviously, we got intimidated early in the first quarter and we lost our discipline all throughout. It’s hard to come back.
“Nagulat lang kami nung first quarter. UST started aggressively with defense and intimidation. I felt that we didn’t adjust well to it. We lost our composure and discipline. We forced our shots and it created a lot of transition points for UST,” he said.
“UST played sharp. They played very well. They shot well. You have to give it to them. They played good defense. Kasama na doon ’yung physicality with how they defend Ray (Parks) and Jean (Mbe).
Bobby Ray Parks and Emmanuel Mbe struggled in the first game of the semifinal showdown. Parks, a two-time MVP, couldn’t get into his comfort zone, scoring 14 points but only two in the first half, while Mbe was held to eight points.
But Altamirano believes his top-seeded Bulldogs will bounce back.
“We want to stay positive. Hopefully, we can make full use of the twice-to-beat (advantage,” said Altamirano. “Hopefully, we can correct those mistakes in the second game.”