COACH Koy Banal was humble enough, man enough to be more exact, to own up to Arellano’s stunning loss to a six-man San Beda team on Sunday in one of the most memorable upsets in the 88-year history of the NCAA.
“I was outcoached, maybe I wasn’t well prepared. I may not have motivated the boys well enough,” said Banal in the aftermath of a 71-81 loss to the Red Lions which he himself had termed as "the worst that has happened in the history of basketball."
“Coach Ronnie (Magsanoc) did a great job on them,” he added.
The Chiefs were expected to mow down the Lions, who showed up with only six players in uniform at The Arena in San Juan as the core of the team served out one-game suspensions for their roles in a brawl against San Sebastian during a women’s volleyball match six months ago at the San Beda gym.
Banal, ironically, was responsible for ending San Beda’s 28-year title drought when he steered the Lions to the championship in 2006.
This time, he admitted pressure to deliver against a team they’re supposed to handily beat could have gotten the better of the Chiefs. It happens to everyone, he said, even to the best of them.
“That’s the difficulty of having to play against a team that has no pressure. Kahit naman sa PBA nangyayari yan. San Beda just played its game, no pressure whatsoever,” said the younger of the two coaching Banal brothers.
The Chiefs raced to an early double-digit lead, 24-12, but somehow failed to deliver the knockout punch against a pesky Lions side spearheaded by Yvan Ludovice.
The Lions stayed close behind 44-42 at the half before turning the game around behind a dominant performance in the second half, racing to a 58-46 lead late in the third period.
San Beda’s roster was further depleted after Jun Bonsubre fouled out in the final eight minutes. But by then, it was obvious the tide had turned in favor of the reigning champions, who were endlessly cheered on by red-clad supporters and alumni in the stands.
“We were outhustled, we were outplayed,” acknowledged Banal.
The Arellano coach added failure to adjust to the officiating also cost the Chiefs’ downfall.
“We didn’t run or press a lot, dahil ang concern namin, baka tumawag naman ng tumawag `yung mga officials, kami naman ang maubos,” he said. “But I’m not blaming the referees naman, we should have adjusted dapat to the kind of officiating.”
The Chiefs themselves were without their two highly-touted recruits in Fil-Canadians James Patrick Forrester and AJ Serjue. Forrester briefly left for Canada to attend to a prior commitment, while Serjue was in uniform but didn’t see action.
Banal admitted the scenario was gloomy inside the Arellano dugout after the match, as if there was death in the family. “Tahimik lahat, walang nagsasalita, masakit sa kanila `yung nangyari.”
But as Banal said, “for a team to be good, it has to suffer the worst.”
“God may have a purpose kung bakit ito nangyari. I just told the team that I hope we learned something out of this. We have to move on because the next day is another different game,” he added.