AS University of the Philippines scrambles to prepare for the finals, Ateneo is already on lockdown mode.
Coaches and players have respectfully declined media availability heading into the big game on Saturday as they put their entire focus on preparing for the confident Fighting Maroons who are still high from making the finals for the first time in 32 years.
One of the most active players in social media, Thirdy Ravena’s last tweet was back in November 22.
Ateneo team members have not been available for interviews for days. Assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga did attend the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum on Tuesday and talked about focus.
“Ang hirap din nun kasi yun focus ng team namin, a lot of people kasi, especially nowadays sa social media, you’d see things like ‘ang gagaling niyo di na kayo matatalo,’ sometimes with the players, siyempre mga bata pa sila, ayaw namin na pumapasok sa utak nila yun,” said Arespacochaga.
“Kahit anong sabihin natin, pag dating sa finals back to zero yan. Zero zero yan, it’s a best of three. Kahit unbeaten ka pag dating sa finals, even slate yun e. Wala nang kinalaman record mo how many wins you’ve had, what matters is the present e,” he added.
“That’s what makes it difficult also how to handle things to let our guys live in the present, not in the past. Ang tendency minsan, pag marami kang accomplishment magrerelax ka.”
But for the longtime Ateneo assistant, the edge that they have is they already know what it takes to win and they’ve already experienced what it’s like to lose and he hopes it’s something that they can push them to another title.
“The advantage that we have is experience. We’ve been here before. We’ve been in this group under coach Tab. We’ve lost in the finals before and we’ve won in the finals before. Medyo alam na ng players namin ang pakiramdam, ng talo o panalo. Ano ba gusto niyong pakiramdam? Mas madali sabihin sa players yun e,” said Arespacochaga.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we’ll use all this experience that we have to counter this pressure.”