SIX years ago, coach Norman Black and Ateneo were in the same exact situation against UST in the UAAP men’s basketball Finals – the Eagles had just won the series opener and appeared poise to claim the title.
To their horror, coach Pido Jarencio and the Tigers swept the next two games and snatched the championship away.
Facing more or less the same scenario after the 83-78 Game One win on Saturday, Black said he and his Blue Eagles would rather not delve on the past and instead focus on the present.
“That game in 2006 was a long time ago so we are just focused on today (Saturday),” said Black.
“I can’t really say that’s a factor because none of my players were on that 2006 team. I’m only the one, along with my coaching staff, who were still in that 2006 team,” he added.
UST coach Pido Jarencio was thinking along the same line when asked about a possible repeat of the so-called ‘Miracle of 2006,’ saying, “Kasi noong 2006, iba naman ‘yun. Ako lang naman yung nandito noong 2006.”
To prevent a repeat of that shocking setback, Black said they should find a way to have a better start in Game Two of the best-of-three championship series set on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The four-time defending champions struggled in the early goings of Saturday’s game, firing blanks in the first half as they shot a paltry 37 percent from the field.
“We just prepare just like we do. We will try to come out and have a better start for Game Two,” said Black.
The Ateneo coach definitely isn’t discounting a big game from the embattled Tigers.
“I expect them to comeback,” Black said.
Jarencio, meanwhile, remains confident he has the right materials to stage a comeback in the short series.
He said the Tigers learned a lot following the Game One defeat, which saw them survive a 17-0 Ateneo third-quarter blitz and even wrest the lead going into the stretch run.
“Parting words ko sa mga bata, alam niyo nakakatuwa tayo. Binigyan natin ng magandang laban ‘yung Ateneo. Kasi ‘yung Ateneo, apat na taong nasa championship, ‘yung experience andyan na. Eh kami unang taon pa lang ng mga bata," he said.
“Isipin mo, championship ganyan ang linaro, okay na ako dyan. Mag-se-settle down ‘yan at ‘yung experience andun na, wala ng pressure ‘yan sa next game,” said Jarencio.