CONTACTED over the phone on Friday for his assessment of the UAAP Final Four match-up between University of Santos Tomas and National University, the conversation with Tigers coach Pido Jarencio didn’t even last a minute.
Known for his penchant of cracking jokes and saying things in jest during post-game interviews, Jarencio was serious and straight to the point this time.
The UST coach made known his team’s sole battle cry in its 12 noon clash with the Bulldogs Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Eto lang ang sasabihin ko, huwag mo na akong tanungin ng iba,” said Jarencio as he talked to Spin.ph over the phone Friday. “Do-or-die game kami, no more tomorrow. `Yun lang.”
Despite holding a twice-to-beat advantage for finishing as the no. 2 seeded team and sweeping their season series against the Bulldogs, Jarencio does not want his Tigers to be complacent and give the host school any chance of pulling an upset.
“Hindi na namin sila iniisip. Basta kami preparado kami dahil kapag kami manalo, nasa finals kami,” said Jarencio.
The UST mentor said the Tigers definitely want to take advantage of the twice-to-beat edge over the Bulldogs, an incentive they sealed last week after beating University of the East to clinch the no. 2 spot at the end of the eliminations.
“Grab na namin ang opportunity dahil minsan lang ito dumating sa amin,” said Jarencio shortly after the Tigers sealed their 10th win of the season. “Kami talaga ang aim namin from the start is to land at 1 or 2, ‘yung twice-to-beat makuha namin.”
The Tigers came back from a sizeable deficit to defeat NU, 77-71, in their first round encounter, and then were dragged into overtime before repeating over the Bulldogs, 58-57, in their second round rematch.
The Bulldogs, however, are currently on a hot streak, winning three straight games including a come-from-behind 84-81 victory in overtime against Far Eastern University in the replay of their controversial game last September 23.
“We hope to use this victory as an inspiration to our next game,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano shortly after the Bulldogs made the Final Four for the first time in a decade.