ATENEO’S notorious third-quarter syndrome struck again.
The Blue Eagles came out listless once more starting the second half of their game against nemesis De La Salle and paid dearly for it, losing grip of a 12-point first half lead on the way to dropping their third straight game, 73-82, on Sunday in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Coach Bo Perasol couldn’t think of any other reason for the sorry loss other than the third-quarter meltdown where the Green Archers outscored them, 31-16.
That allowed La Salle to erase a 28-40 deficit at the half and translate it to a 59-56 lead starting the fourth.
Unfortunately, the Eagles failed to bounce back from that scoring hole as the Archers finally snapped their six-game losing streak against their longtime rivals.
Perasol acknowledges the third quarter has been Ateneo’s waterloo this season that saw the five-time champion off to a woeful 0-3 start.
“Hindi namin ma-sustain ‘yung energy namin noong first and second quarters,” Perasol said. “I told them specifically that our weakness is the third quarter.”
“I’m not a believer of adjustments during the game. I always look at the energy level of my players. We led because of our energy. When we lost, it’s because of our energy,” said Perasol.
The Eagles lost despite Chris Newsome finishing with a career-high 27 points to lead the team.
Still, Perasol believed in his heart Ateneo can beat La Salle even with a roster that is without star player Kiefer Ravena, who is still saddled with a severe ankle injury.
“Para bang andoon na sa kamay namin. We know we can beat La Salle pero hinayaan namin sila,” said Perasol.