HEARTBREAKING was the only word Bo Perasol could come up with on the heels of University of the Philippines 69-68 loss at the hands of Adamson courtesy of a Sean Manganti game-winner on Wednesday.
But if there's one thing Perasol can take solace from, it's Bright Akhuetie finally playing true to form, tallying a 20-20 statline in his best game in a UP uniform.
"I think with what he showed, that's the Bright we were looking for," the mentor said as Akhuetie almost delivered the win with a putback that gave the Fighting Maroons a 68-67 lead in the final 5.7 seconds.
Perasol has only been preaching patience since Akhuetie's arrival in UP, and he's happy to see the progress finally coming together for the 6-foot-7 center.
"Yun din naman ang sinasabi ko sa kanya. This league is different. The expectations, the one year that he was just resting, that took a toll on him," he said.
Akhuetie averaged 10.67 points and 12.67 rebounds for the Fighting Maroons before this breakout, and with him finally getting his groove, Perasol is confident his big man's dominant showing won't be a one-off.
"He's just going to be better and he needs to be for him to be able to help us," he said.
Perasol isn't willing to press the panic button just yet despite a three-game losing streak that left the Maroons with a 1-3 record, saying those defeats came from some of the league's contenders.
"The slate looks bleak, but the three losses we had were against the stronger programs," he said. "I'm disappointed with our standing right now. This is not the way we have planned it to be, but I'm really proud with how we played this game coming from a very bad loss."
Hardships only makes one stronger, and that's the approach Perasol is taking.
"I think that I need to be strong for the team. I told them we need to feel the pain and the hurt. We all wanted to win that game for us to be able to get ourselves back in the winning column, but life happens.
"As I told them, if it was a set play, if somebody got screened or somebody got open, that might be unforgivable. But it was a broken play and a hail-mary shot," he said.
"This night was not for us. We all have to live with that and we need to take the positive out of this game. It's not gonna be easier, it's gonna be more difficult."