ATENEO coach Sandy Arespacochaga credited University of Santo Tomas for pushing the team to the limit as the Blue Eagles dug deep to clinch their fifth win of the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament.
The Blue Eagles beat the Growling Tigers, 94-84, but they nearly squandered a 22-point lead on Wednesday.
"I guess there was a letdown on our end and at the same time, there is also a sense of urgency for UST," said Arespacochaga. "They picked it up and we took a step back."
UST trailed by just a point, 81-80, on a triple by Marvin Lee in the fourth quarter before Ateneo finished with a 13-4 blast to take the win.
"If you noticed our mood, we weren't happy with the game. We weren't happy with the way we went up and down with our energy," said Arespacochaga.
Thirdy Ravena, who finished with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, agreed that UST wanted to win the game more.
"UST is a very tough team. They really didn't give up until the last second. Si Marvin (Lee), grabe 'yung ginawa niya nung second half. You can see that they wanted to win," said Ravena.
Arespacochaga said Ateneo was not on top of its game as far as defense is concerned.
"We were not happy with how we gave up 23 points in the first quarter, 20 in the second, and 28 in the third quarter," said Arespacochaga.
Even though the team was visibly disappointed the calls of the referees, Arespacochaga refused to point at officiating as the reason for UST's comeback as both teams, the Ateneo coach believed, had their share of questionable calls.
"We weren't happy with the consistency of the calls. I think even UST also, both are puzzled, sometimes they call a foul, same action, and then the referees don't call a foul. It's a bit confusing so that is why maybe both teams were complaining," said Arespacochaga.
Arespacochaga said UST proved on Wednesday any team can beat any one regardless of the team's win-loss record.
"Defensively, we need to improve in that aspect especially we really can't take my team for granted in this league," he said.