UST coach Haydee Ong believes Game One of the UAAP Season 82 women's basketball finals last week showed the gap between the mighty National University Lady Bulldogs, champions in five straight seasons and unbeaten in 95 games, and the Tigresses isn't really that far off.
Part of her confidence roots on the performance of Season MVP Grace Irebu, who was a menace in the paint with her 17 points, 18 rebounds, and five blocks.
And for Ong, a couple of breaks here and there in favor of UST might just spell doom for NU's bid for a six-peat and a sixth straight perfect season.
"Sabi namin, 'We still have another game, another opportunity.' So we'll try to do our best on Saturday," she said.
The Golden Tigresses did gave the Lady Bulldogs a sweat with the nip-and-tuck affair the two squads had back in the series opener.
It's just that UST's 25 turnovers costed it so much, leading to NU capitalizing on those miscues.
"There's so many breaks na we could've tied or won the game, but the two crucial errors in the endgame, that says it all," said Ong, ruing Kaye Pingol's steal on Tacky Tacatac and Kelli Hayes' block on Jeorge Panti that led to her side's late collapse.
It's as close as anyone has gotten against NU this season, but the veteran mentor is positive that with a more disciplined approach for Game Two on Saturday, UST can do the improbable and stop NU's 95-game winning run.
More importantly, a win, as tough as it is to pull off, could extend the championship series to a deciding Game Three.
"Syempre di kami makukuntento dyan kasi we want to tie the series on Saturday," she said. "So we have to really work harder and to give all our effort on Saturday kasi our backs are against the wall."