WINNING two offseason tournaments is exactly what University of the Philippines needs in its bid to build a winning culture, said Maroons coach Bo Perasol.
The Fighting Maroons have won two titles in a matter of weeks, ruling the Araw ng Dabaw Invitational last month by beating a Ben Mbala-led La Salle in the finals, before taking the Republica Cup college crown in Malolos City over the weekend with a win over University of Santo Tomas in the finals.
Paul Desiderio won the MVP award in both tournaments while prized recruit Bright Akhuetie, transferee Jun Manzo and incoming rookie Juan Gomez de Liano had significant contributions.
Even though the titles came in pocket tournaments, Perasol said these go a long way in building confidence in a team that has been looking to turn the corner since he took over prior to the start of Season 79 of the UAAP.
“When I talked to you last year,” Perasol reminded SPIN.ph, “I told you wala pa kaming collective experience of winning. Ngayon meron na.”
Perasol emphasized the most important aspect about winning the championship is learning from the experience.
Perasol cited the championship game in Malolos where there was a stretch where UP struggled against UST's pressure defense, where he simply had to remind his players that they overcame a more daunting full-court press from La Salle in Davao.
“I just kept reminding them, ‘Ano ba natutunan namin sa La Salle? I-apply natin ngayon.’ Pinaalala ko sa kanila nung nag-press ang UST and we were committing turnovers, sabi ko, ‘Dinaanan na natin ‘to, La Salle pa kalaban natin at na-withstand natin,'” Perasol said.
True enough, the Maroons defeated the Growling Tigers, 100-91.
“It’s important to have that idea that we can win. Ang iniisip namin, ‘yung being aware of the experience of winning. Pero importante ‘yung nananalo kami pero mas importante ‘yung natututo kami sa experience of winning,” said Perasol.