AT this point of the UAAP Season 77, University of Santo Tomas needs the three Ps responsible for leading the school to its glory days in the past -- puso, pride, and palaban.
Coach Bong Dela Cruz stressed only those three characteristics which served as the battle cry of predecessor Pido Jarencio will save the Tigers’ season as they fell to sixth place overall with a 5-6 win-loss record and outside of the Final Four loop.
“Kailangang hindi mawala sa amin ‘yun. Kapag nawala ‘yun, hindi na sila Thomasian niyan. Dapat nandoon parati ‘yun, win or lose,” said Dela Cruz, who’s in his rookie year with the team after taking over the coaching reigns from Jarencio prior to the season.
UST is one defeat away from missing the Final Four for the first time in three years as it bowed to Ateneo on Saturday, 69-58.
Despite the loss to the Blue Eagles, Dela Cruz noted the Tigers were actually in contention for the first three quarters until they gave up 11 unanswered points in the fourth period.
“’Yung execution nung fourth quarter, masyado kaming nagtititira sa labas. ‘Yung penalty ng kalaban, hindi namin na-gain ‘yung advantage doon,” he said.
Karim Abdul had a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Louie Vigil and Aljon Mariano had 14 and 12 in a losing effort against the Eagles.
But right now, Dela Cruz said he is banking on the fighting pride of his players, hoping for a different turn of events in the next games.
“Kailangan lang namin ngayon, ‘yung pride naman at puso. ‘Yun lang naman ang pinag-uusapan namin. Basta laban lang ng laban. Kahit may pag-asa pa kami pero slim, laban lang,” said the UST coach.