AFTER his team felt the wrath of three-time defending champion San Beda in the Final Four, University of Perpetual Help coach Aric Del Rosario believes the Red Lions have what it takes to sustain their dominance in the NCAA.
The veteran mentor singled out the Lions’ deeper bench as the likely major factor that could spell the difference in their Finals showdown with the Letran Knights starting on Monday.
“Mas malakas pamalit ng San Beda,” Del Rosario said shortly after the Lions eliminated the Altas from the title race on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena with a 70-51 victory.
They Said It!
“Makaka-isa ang Letran siguro kasi ang problema ng San Beda minsan nag-re-relax sila kaya kung minsan nasisingitan." - Perpetual Help coach Aric Del Rosario
Still, he sees the best-of-three title series going the distance.
“Makaka-isa ang Letran siguro kasi ang problema ng San Beda minsan nag-re-relax sila kaya kung minsan nasisingitan.”
Del Rosario was hoping the Altas could have done the same against the three-time champion in the semis, but lamented San Beda’s vast experience was too much for his young team to overcome.
“Mahirap kalaban San Beda kasi talo kami sa experience,” the veteran Del Rosario said. “Ilang taon na 'yan lumalaban sa championship, hindi gaya nung sa akin, ngayon lang sila napunta sa top four.”
The man definitely knows what he’s talking about after having a similar dominant run with University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP during the mid-1990s when he steered the Tigers to four straight titles.
And unlike the Lions, who have been to the Finals for the eighth year in a row, Del Rosario’s Altas had made the Final Four for only the second straight year.
The team’s inexperience definitely showed as the Altas faltered in the second half of the Final Four duel after putting up a worthy challenge in the first two quarters.
Justine Alano stood at the forefront of the Altas’ early attack, scoring all but two of his game-high 12 points in the first half.
After holding a four-point lead at halftime, the Altas kept the game close in the third canto, before the champions banked on a 16-2 run bridging the last two quarters to seal the deal.
It was the Altas’ fourth straight loss to the Lions, including the 52-56 defeat in last year’s Final Four.
Perpetual Help ended its season campaign behind a six-game losing streak, including its last five matches in the eliminations.