AS far as University of Santo Tomas coach Pido Jarencio is concerned, the second round of hostilities in the UAAP that begins on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena is a whole new ballgame.
“Back to zero kami,” said Jarencio, whose Tigers are currently at the top of the standings with a 6-1 (win-loss) slate. “Hindi namin iniisip ‘yung standings, ang iniisip namin ‘yung kalaban namin, kung paano talunin, at kung paano tayo mananalo.”
The UST coach, one of the most prolific scorers in the league's 75-year history, wants his Tigers to be completely focused when they go up against Far Eastern University in the main game of an interesting doubleheader set at 4 p.m.
The Tigers have an ax to grind as the Tamaraws are the only team to have beaten UST so far this season -- a thrilling 73-72 win on opening day on a steal and lay-up by RR Garcia in the dying seconds.
But since that loss to the Tamaraws, the Growling Tigers have romped off with six straight victories to snatch the No. 1 spot by the end of the first round.
“Kailangan naming makabawi,” Jarencio said.
Bannered by leading MVP contender Karim Abdul, the Growling Tigers have not been in this spot since the 1999 season under coach Aric Del Rosario when they completed a seven-game sweep of the first round.
“Nasa unfamiliar territory nga kami, pero hindi naman kami favorites bago pumasok ang season. Kaya maganda na ‘yung puwesto namin,” said Jarencio.
Although not focused on their win-loss record, the former PBA cager admitted wanting to remain on top of the standings.
“We want to stay sharp. We want to be a contender. Ang target namin ay ‘yung top two,” said Jarencio.
After occupying the top spot for the most part of the first round, the Tamaraws are looking to bounce back after finding themselves in third spot with a 5-2 win-loss card, no thanks to a 71-74 loss to defending champion Ateneo last Saturday.
In the first game, National University takes on Adamson at 2 p.m.
The Bulldogs found their short, two-game winning streak snapped last Saturday when they lost to La Salle, 87-86, in double overtime.
But the Falcons are in a deeper hole, having dropped their last four games including one against UST, 60-61, last Sunday.