Warriors, Tigers take on UAAP tailenders
After their erratic first-round run, University of Santo Tomas and University of the East hope to come out more cohesive at the start of the second half of eliminations in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament today.
The Tigers take on winless Adamson at 2 p.m., while the Warriors battle another tailender in the University of the Philippines at 4 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I trust my players that we can adjust in the second round,” UST coach Bong dela Cruz said of his Tigers, the runner-up in the last two seasons.
Both the Tigers and the Warriors wrapped up their first-round campaigns with similar 3-4 records for a share of fifth place.
“Last year we were in the same situation, but we had Jeric Teng as a leader,” said Dela Cruz. “So I challenged the veterans that they should also be a leader like Jeric. They have to step up—Aljon (Mariano), Kevin (Ferrer), Karim (Abdul)—to lead this team.”
UE coach Derrick Pumaren also told his Warriors to raise their game after a heartbreaking first round where they blew double-digit leads in their four losses.
“We cannot afford to make mistakes and lapses this time,” said Pumaren. “We have to take control of the whole game. We have to play for the whole 40 minutes.”
Last Wednesday, the Warriors snapped a four-game skid with a 72-62 triumph over the Tigers, who had to do without Abdul.
“It was a very important win and I hope we can use that as a start,” said Pumaren. “We lost three games by two points and the whole team was disappointed. But I think we can become a better team with those losses.”
The Tigers, meanwhile, hope to have Abdul back after the Cameroonian center sat out due to a viral infection.
“The injuries and our health have been a concern,” said Dela Cruz, adding that Ferrer also played with a sprained ankle in their last game.
Although the Maroons still have only a win to show, the team hopes it could spark a turnaround.
“That first win against Adamson will hopefully be the start of the momentum,” said team manager Dan Palami after the Maroons got a taste of their first win in two years with 77-64 win over the Falcons last week.