With University of the Philippines fighting for its life, coach Bo Perasol knows that there’s no sense crying over spilled milk following its crucial 86-70 defeat to Adamson last Sunday.
Sitting at 5-7, UP is in a must-win situation if it wants to keep its Final Four hopes alive.
But Perasol knows the Fighting Maroons need to put their loss to the Soaring Falcons behind them if they want to score the upset and give Ateneo its first loss in UAAP Season 80 on Wednesday.
“Looking forward, it’s my job to keep their spirits up. Although we accepted the fact that the effort we had wasn’t enough, we just have to find a way how we can compete against a team like Ateneo,” said Perasol.
The Fighting Maroons will have their loyal and vocal alumni behind them again as they make a last ditch rally for the Final Four, which Perasol is welcoming with open arms.
“They [the fans] are passionate about winning, and it’s a positive sign that a community cares,” he said. “It gives pressure to the team to deliver and for them to not be passive…You’re in a competition, you’re supposed to win. You’re not going to win all the time, but with whatever you have, you make sure that you’re going to use that to have an advantage.”
The affable coach appreciated how invested the UP alumni are in the the performance of the Maroons, who are a game behind fourth place Far Eastern U in the Final four race.
“When we weren’t winning, nobody cared, it was like ‘that’s how it is. Good luck guys.’ But now, this is something really new. That’s why I told the team that it’s fine that the alumni are angry because in a way, they are now involved.”
Against Adamson, the UP faithful were loud in expressing their displeasure over what they felt were a badly officiated ball game, chanting “luto” during the second half as Adamson slowly pulled away in the third period, 69-50.
That frustration was magnified when a UP student, seen wearing a media ID and sitting at courtside, threw the halftime stat sheet to the court in exasperation during the quarter break. That led to the Smart Araneta Coliseum bouncers escorting the student out of the venue.
The numbers were indeed tilted against UP with with the Soaring Falcons shooting 25-of-28 from the freethrow line while the Fighting Maroons went 8-of-10.
But the disparity shouldn’t come as surprise given how Papi Sarr made minced meat of the UP defense and racked up 25 points and 17 rebounds on a 7-of-9 shooting from the charity stripe.
“The effort was there. I was happy about the effort of playing, but in the details, the quality it wasn’t there. I think we got overplayed by Papi Sarr,” lamented Perasol, whose side was called for 25 fouls. “Also, I saw that they attempted 28 free throws against our 10 and it may say a lot about how bad we defended, because we had a lot of fouls.”
This frustrated most of the UP fanbase, but Perasol opted to take the high road when dealing with the head-scratching calls.
“It’s kind of frustrating but I also have to keep my players (calm). There’s no other way to deal with it. If they want to call it, they will call it. What would be our chances if we start a fight? Nothing’s going to chance with the calls,” said Perasol.