Tigers ‘overachieved’ despite failed UAAP title bid
University of Santo Tomas’ failed bid to win the title isn’t indicative of the kind of season it had.
The Growling Tigers yielded the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball championship to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in a pulsating Game 3, but despite being dealt with another heartbreak, UST head coach Bong dela Cruz still ended up feeling satisfied with the outcome considering not many gave his team a chance to begin with.
“I can’t say enough of the players,” said dela Cruz. “Nobody expected us to make the finals, force Game 3, or even make it to the Final Four. But the players, we’re a team and we’re a family and we have a goal.”
“We overachieved, but we just fell short. We just told them to be proud of what we have achieved.”
Dela Cruz drew flak in his first season as head coach last year with the Tigers winding up in sixth place after coming off back-to-back finals appearances under former mentor Pido Jarencio.
But with UST’s unexpected rise to the top and eventually making its third trip to the finals in the last four years, dela Cruz was able to save his name.
UST was six minutes away from what could’ve been its first championship in nine years after taking a six-point lead.
But it only took three minutes for FEU to regain the lead for good after a clutch 3-pointer from one of its six seniors in Roger Pogoy.
After the game, dela Cruz rued his team’s poor endgame decisions.
“What happened is still painful. FEU executed well, and we didn’t execute in the end game. That’s what happened,” he said.
Right after the Tigers’ disappointing stint last season, the team immediately went back to work, and dela Cruz doesn’t plan on wasting precious time this year as well.
“We’ll prepare early and develop players from Team B. We’ll make do with whoever is left and see who we will get from recruitment,” said dela Cruz, who won’t have four of his five starters in Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abdul, Jon Sheriff and Ed Daquioag, back for next season due to graduation.
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