TIME is running out on University of the Philippines.
Carrying lofty expectations at the start of the season, the Fighting Maroons are racing against time to get themselves back in contention for a Final Four spot.
And coach Bo Perasol knows it, that despite his unwavered optimism, UP must act up if it wants to make the cut to the top four.
"I'm really positive about our chances. But I told them this is the time to do something for us to really have a chance sa Final Four," he admitted after his side absorbed another defeat, this time against Adamson, 80-72 on Sunday.
The Fighting Maroons slipped down the standings and are now at joint fifth place with FEU at 5-6.
It might be that UP is being weighed down by the pressures of these grand goals. But that's the reality of being touted as a contender, that for one to win a championship, it must find a way to power through the distractions and compete at its very best game-in and game-out.
Perasol admits that his side is still very far from that.
"In order for you to beat the top two teams, you need to be extra special. You need to make your shots at the same time, make them miss. And it did not happen in this game," he said as UP found itself down by as big as 26 in the duel.
Though the boys from Diliman showed some grit and gave the Soaring Falcons some semblance of a scare in the payoff period, the cushion was just too much for them to overhaul.
"There was a lot of effort on our part in the fourth quarter, but we got in very deep playing behind them and the reason for that is we lacked the discipline in executing what we wanted to happen defensively and it hurt us. When we turned the ball over, we missed a lot, they were able to convert. Masyadong magaling ang Adamson to play them that way. We lost to a better team, a team that really played well up until the end," he said.
With three games remaining in its schedule, it's put up-or-shut up time now for UP if it truly is serious on its aims of ending a playoff drought which has already spanned for 21 years.
And for Perasol, he's not willing to settle for any excuse at this point. Ready or not, the Fighting Maroons must find a way to deliver or else feel another disappointment of a season this year.
"The way we see with how our players played, it's just a sign of our immaturity as a group. But I told them this is not the time to think about that. Whether we're immature or mature, it doesn't matter. We need to do something to win the next game, the next, and the next," he said. "We need to get one win at a time. It's a must."
UP seeks to right the ship on Saturday against NU.