DYLAN Ababou and Japs Cuan, two members of the last University of Santo Tomas team to win a UAAP championship in 2006, have urged the present-day Tigers to take a do-or-die approach to Game Two of their title series against De La Salle on Saturday.
Ababou and Company lost the first game of the 2006 Finals to Ateneo on Doug Kramer's last-gasp basket but went on to win the title - a feat which Cuan warned the Green Archers can duplicate after losing the series opener to the Tigers, 72-73, on Wednesday.
"Huwag sila mag-relax kasi the mere fact that we won Game One doesn't mean anything if we won't win the second game," said the former Tigers guard. "So dapat ang mentality is do-or-die pa rin."
Cuan added: “Sa next game ‘wag na nila isipin na may Game Three pa. Ibigay na nila lahat kasi pag nag-relax sila at makabawi pa ang La Salle, it's anyone's ballgame. So next game advice ko sa kanila is to take it as their last game, so hopefully after seven years bring back the crown to España.”
Ababou and Cuan were both at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to witness the gripping ending to Game One, and memories of their Game One loss to Ateneo in 2006 - and Kramer's game-winner - came racing back as the Archers got a shot at the game-winner after a UST turnover.
Good thing, Almond Vosotros missed an open three-pointer, while LA Revilla’s follow–up basket was blocked by big man Karim Abdul at the buzzer.
“Siguro kung na-shoot ni LA Revilla talo na naman tayo ng one second,” said Ababou, heaving a sigh of relief shortly after the game. “Buti na lang may Karim Abdul tayo. Siguro kung may mas malaking player tayo noon na-block din ‘yung tira ni Doug Kramer.”
Cuan for his part, said he got a little bit concerned after the Tigers started celebrating after Kevin Ferrer’s booming three-pointer gave the team a 73-69 lead.
“After ng three points ni Kevin Ferrer sabi ko dapat ‘di muna nag-celebrate kasi naka-three point play si Jeron Teng,” said Cuan, who was in the company of 2006 Finals MVP Jojo Duncil.
“Kasi nga takot nga kami doon sa one second (shot) ni Doug Kramer, napaka painful,” he added.
Ababou, now with Barangay Ginebra in the PBA, said the Tigers should prepare themselves for a big De La Salle fightback in Game Two.
“Kailangan ng mental toughness kasi ang La Salle will come out very strong at saka kailangan nila (Tigers) mag-stick together more ngayong Game Two,” said Ababou. “Gamitin nila ‘yung team spirit at team chemistry nila ngayong situation na ito.”
Title-less for the last seven years, the Tigers, according to Cuan, should likewise use last season’s Finals loss to Ateneo as one of their motivations.
“Natikman nila how it was na matalo sa championship, ngayon matured na sila. So hopefully this year `yung experience nila last year, ‘yung how painful it is na matalo dalhin nila para ayaw na nila ‘yung pain. Dapat yun ang mag-motivate sa kanila para manalo ngayon,” he said.