DESPITE the off-court issues that have so far marred the UAAP men’s basketball Finals, key figures of both Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas have kept themselves focused on the all-important Game Two on Thursday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The coaching staff of the two teams have reminded the players to just think about the game and just let them be the ones to take care of the other concerns outside the court.
“Sinabi nila sa amin na sila na ang bahala sa mga off-court issues kung ano man ‘yung mga nangyari,” said Ateneo sophomore Kiefer Ravena, shortly after the Blue Eagles’ practice on Wednesday. “Kung ano man ‘yung sinasabi ng mga tao sa amin, we have to keep in mind to be focused on our goal, which is to win.”
UST simply has no more time to think about off-court issues as the Tigers are faced with a must-win situation.
“Nagamit na namin yung isa na kumbaga pwedeng ipatalo, kaya di na pwede matalo bukas (Thursday) kundi next year na lang. Kaya all out na kami sa Game Two, no-tomorrow na," said Jeric Teng, the 2009 Rookie of the Year.
The five-day respite in between the series opener and Game Two of the Finals saw coaches Pido Jarencio of UST and Ateneo’s Norman Black engage in a heated war of words triggered by Jarencio’s allegations that the Tigers had gotten the wrong end of the officiating in his team’s 78-83 loss.
Despite the ensuing circus, Teng insisted the off-court distractions have not affected the Tigers in their bid to send the best-of-three series to a deciding match.
"Confident buong team na mananalo kami bukas," said Teng after the Tigers' practice at the UST gym on Wednesday.