FOR most of the first round of Season 77 of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament, Ateneo always found a way to fight back and win a game.
But against De La Salle on Sunday, the Blue Eagles just couldn’t pull it off.
The Eagles failed to overhaul a 13-point deficit and fell short against the defending champion Green Archers, 88-86, before another jampacked crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo coach Bo Perasol admitted the Blue Eagles’ bad habit of starting slowly during games finally caught up with them.
He cautioned the team it can’t always dig itself a deep hole and expect to come back and win the game every time.
“We can’t just go in the game and win it in the last seconds most of the time, and that was what happened in our first round,” Perasol noted.
“What we need to do is find a way to make sure to set up ourselves na hindi laging sa endgame nananalo because it could always go either way.”
The Eagles pulled off several endgame comebacks during the first round, including one against La Salle itself, that allowed them to finish the first half of the season on top of the standings with a 6-1 record.
But this time Perasol was quick to point out how La Salle started out well in the game, something that his team failed to match.
Jeron Teng led the Green Archers to victory by scoring 22 of his 32 points in the first half.
“I don’t think it was a factor being Ateneo-La Salle. I don’t think we were complacent. I think they just started well with Jeron. You have to give it to them. Jeron had a very good game. We attempted shots and we missed it. We need to make sure we can match up with those kind of performances,” said Perasol.
Still, Perasol said Ateneo’s slow start will have to be addressed as soon as possible.
“We started really bad in our last few games. We are trying to address that. I hope that we can address that as soon as possible,” said Perasol.