UST Growling Tigers head coach Aldin Ayo believes his team's immaturity caused their downfall in the 71-70 loss to Ateneo.
Although down by double digits at one point in the first half, the Tigers gave the Blue Eagles a real scare before Ateneo used its championship experience to register its third straight win in UAAP Season 82 Wednesday.
After Renzo Subido's go-ahead 3-pointer that put UST up 67-64 with 3:40 to go, Ayo's team failed to score up until the guard's last-second heave that trimmed the final margin. Ateneo, meanwhile, pounced on the chaotic finish to mount a 7-0 run to steal the victory.
"It all boiled down to decision-making down the stretch. The boys' maturity lacked down the stretch especially when there was no dead-ball situation," rued Ayo. "We were not able to execute our game plan in those kinds of situations. We prepared for that, but their immaturity showed."
While UST fielded in nine rookies this season, including Soulemane Chabi Yo and Rhenz Abando, Ayo was not surprised that his team was able to hang with arguably the most premier collegiate squad.
Chabi Yo, who held his own against Angelo Kouame with 25 points and 13 rebounds, assured that his team will regroup for the rematch next round.
"Yeah," the Beninese forward said when asked if they wanted to win against Ateneo. "We have to do that if we want to be champion."
Even opposing coach Tab Baldwin, who has had two classic Finals confrontations with Ayo, praised his counterpart and expects both teams to bring out the best in each other.
"I just have so much respect for him and the way he does his job and you know he's a blessing for Philippine Basketball, for the UAAP. It was a great game and those last few minutes were pretty tough, pretty tense," said Baldwin.
"Aldin always has a couple of tactical things up his sleeve you know, but we prepared really well. We prepared very intensively. So we had a good look at his systems. They were very well prepared as well."