BRIGHT Akhuetie may be leading the statistical points race for the MVP award - a first for any UP Fighting Maroon in the UAAP over two decades - but winning any individual plum hardly matters if they couldn't get the job done.
"I don't think Bright is gonna be happy about that if we're not going to be in the Final Four," said coach Bo Perasol as the Nigerian stands as the first player from Diliman to have a legitimate chance at the hardware since Paolo Mendoza in 1997.
"We all know Bright can rack up numbers, but if it doesn't translate into us going into the Final Four or winning games, I don't think he's gonna be happy about that."
UP's woes continued to pile up after losing anew to Ateneo, 83-66 on Sunday as it fell to sixth place with its 3-5 card in UAAP Season 81, far from the lofty Final Four expectations it set before the tournament started.
Perasol himself expressed displeasure with how his team has been playing, knowing that no matter how promising the Fighting Maroons are, their good just isn't good enough, as evidenced with their play against the Blue Eagles.
"I didn't think how we played the game was good enough to beat the defending champions. As far as our efforts are concerned, I'm 100 percent satisfied at what they showed, but we missed lots of shots while on the other hand, Ateneo made their shots," he said.
UP shot 40-percent from the field but went on an atrocious 2-of-21 mark from long range, good for just 9-percent from threes. That is a stark contrast to that 40-percent clip from deep of Ateneo -- one of the main weapons the Katipunan side used to blow the game wide open and take a lead as high as 20, 83-63 in the waning seconds of the game.
Slowly, the enormity of the situation is setting in for the Fighting Maroons, that with six games left in their schedule, their postseason aspirations are slowly going in peril.
But for Perasol, his team has no other choice but to be defiant and stay the course.
"The only time we're going to feel that the season is slowly slipping away is when we stop. We still have six games, and we're problably one or two games away from the mdidle of the pack. But we have to be better also. We can't just say laban, laban. We have to be truly better to beat the teams that we go up against in the next few weeks so we just have to encourage my team that all is not lost yet," he said.
"The day of reckoning will be the day that will be the last. Whatever it is, we have to be sure that we can tell ourselves that we did everything we can. That is the most improtant aspect of our program right now. Am I satisfied with the way we're playing? Far from it."
Perasol also knows that there's no more room for sourgraping at this point, that as endangered as his spot is as the team's head coach, UP's fate will be decided with how far the team will reach this season.
"Looking back, we could've been fifth but hindi naman pwedeng prumeno. We can't stop right now and tell ourselves we could've won against this and that because the truth is, we lost," he said.
"We need to look at the six games that are coming and we need to take the next one and the next one until everything is lost for us. My job and how I'm going to lead my team is just to let them feel that we have to keep going."
As desperate as UP's situation is, Perasol reminded the players to give it their all, starting on its next game against UE on Sunday.
"We owe it to our community who are starving for wins," he said. "I will feel bad if they will be apathetic again with our plight na, 'I don't care. They always lose.' Pero ngayong, pinapansin na nila kami, I'm happy."