UP head coach Bo Perasol is hoping for more time after the Fighting Maroons lost their sixth game of UAAP Season 81 on Sunday.
"I wish I could just tell the guys that it's not about how you win or lose the game, but it's how you play the game," Perasol said. "But there's no time for us to think about that now."
Perasol spoke humbly and openly after his team lost against the Adamson Falcons, 80-72. The final score does not fully encapsulate two things -- that the Fighting Maroons showed grit and determination in the fourth quarter in an attempt to mount a comeback and that the Falcons were in control for the majority of the contest and UP did not play at par to its potential. Credit Adamson for devising and executing its game plan, but the Fighting Maroons displayed little desire up until late in the ball game.
"We lost to a better team, a team that really played well up until the end," Perasol admitted. "There was a lot of effort on our part in the fourth quarter, but we got in very deep playing behind them and the reason for that is we lacked the discipline in executing what we wanted to happen defensively and it hurt us."
After being down by as much as 20 points, a 3-pointer by Juan Gomez De Liaño got UP to as close to four points with a minute and a half remaining. But the Fighting Maroons ran out of steam in the endgame and a gutsy triple by Sean Manganti closed the door on their comeback bid. Time was surely not on the side of Perasol and his team once again.
If there was any solace for the Fighting Maroons in that loss, it was that they showed flashes of what their team could be. Right before their big rally, they had a eureka moment late in the third period.
"I can feel everybody was lost. So I had to put it in the right perspective that it's there already. What can we do about that?" Perasol recalled. "I specifically saw it, in the last three minutes of the third quarter, we still had 13 minutes to overhaul this. It's not just about the score anymore. It's about how can we get something positive out of this. I told them we have three more games, what more can we get out of this last 13 minutes? And they just responded."
Perasol's plea to his team seemed to have worked because even though they lost, they showed their true selves in the closing minutes. They only have three games left in the second round and Perasol's dilemma is that they're simply running out of time.
"We have three games and a lot of them are in contention, so we need to get one win at a time. The end of that, we need to get the next one. It's a must. After that, we need to get the next one," the coach said. "But we cannot think of the next game. We need to get the win against NU on Saturday."
"Whether we're immature or mature, it doesn't matter. We need to do something to win the next game, and the next, and the next." Bo Perasol
Currently in sixth place with a 5-6 record, UP is on the outside looking in at the Final Four picture. Ateneo and Adamson are slowly pulling away as league leaders which leaves a logjam for La Salle, UST, FEU, and UP in the last two semis slots. UP's next three games are against the aforementioned Bulldogs, then the up and coming Tigers, followed by Archers who are formidable as ever. It's going to be an uphill climb for the Fighting Maroons to enter the Final Four.
UP therefore has no time to think about what ifs and what could have beens in its losses. The team can't afford to stop and worry if they indeed have what it takes in the coming games. They also do not have the luxury to worry that time is running for out them.
"I'm really positive about our chances. The way we see our players played, how we played is just a sign of our immaturity as a group, but I told them this is not the time to think about that," said Perasol. "This is the time to do something for us to really have a chance in the Final Four. Whether we're immature or mature, it doesn't matter. We need to do something to win the next game, the next, and the next."
The Fighting Maroons look to get back on track on Saturday versus the NU Bulldogs.