UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas coach Pido Jarencio has stepped up the pressure on National University, saying the Bulldogs carry the weight of expectations ahead of their do-or-die showdown for a place in the UAAP men's basketball finals on Saturday afternoon.
The outspoken coach said the Tigers will be taking the same "nothing-to-lose" mentality to the 4 p.m. game at the Mall of Asia Arena, pointing out that it was the twice-to-beat Bulldogs who are heavily favored to win the Final Four match-up.
Jarencio said the Tigers' 71-62 victory on Wednesday has only heightened the pressure on NU, which is seeking its first appearance in the finals in 43 years.
“Ang mindset namin nung pumasok sa Final Four, twice-to-beat ang number one, number four (seed) kami, nothing to lose kami. Mindset namin sa Sabado, ganun pa rin, nothing to lose,” said Jarencio.
“Ang pressure nasa kanila,” Jarencio added.
The injury-hit UST Tigers sputtered early in the season but have hit their stride upon the return of leader Jeric Teng from a shoulder injury, winning four of their last five games to stand on the threshold of a second successive trip to the league finals.
Jarencio said the Tigers are peaking at the right time.
“Timing lang after the second round. Nung bumalik si Jeric Teng, paakyat na kami. Medyo nasa peak na ‘yung team namin,” said Jarencio.
Kevin Ferrer topscored for UST in its first encounter with NU with 14 points, but it was his defense on Bobby Parks that had a big impact on the game and made the headlines this past week.
Ferrer limited two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Parks to only 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. Parks later expressed his frustration at Ferrer’s physical defense, saying it got a “little too low.”
[For full story, see Parks vents frustration, claims Ferrer defense got way too physical]
Jarencio would later join the war of words, saying the son of the late PBA import Bobby Parks should by now be quite familiar with the Filipino brand of basketball.
[For full story, see Pido on Parks' complaint: Dapat alam mo kung ano laro dito sa Pilipinas]