Reyes, UST exit Final Four with heads held high
It took University of Santo Tomas five years to return to the Final Four, in two hours De La Salle sent the Golden Tigresses packing.
As painful as their exit may be, UST head coach Kung Fu Reyes knows they’ve done more than enough.
“We’re making our exit proud of our players,” said Reyes Saturday after losing to the Lady Spikers 25-14, 25-20, 24-26, 15-13 in their first game back in the semifinals at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “I hope next year, this Final Four exit serves as a lesson.”
“Of course, we’re not stopping on what we achieved this year, when we were down at the sixth spot we fought back, and that was a very difficult phase for us.”
UST finished with the third-best record in the league, 9-5, and that was a massive improvement from when the Golden Tigresses were the no. 6 team with a 5-9 record in Season 78.
Reyes said their Season 79 ranking would now be there baseline as they hope to improve in the latter seasons.
“We can’t say that we’ll settle for third place, that’s not the mindset we developed on our players,” said Reyes who took over the Golden Tigresses in Season 78. “We have to improve from this. We’re here, we’ll fight.”
“We had a good run this season, we just came up short.”
Gaining the respect
Reyes’ not only elevated UST back to relevance, though, he also injected a new life into the Golden Tigresses that even La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus had to take note of.
De Jesus was impressed of what UST has done, and he said that it will only take some time before the Golden Tigresses become a legitimate threat in the title race.
“That team’s no joke, especially if you compare them to what they were a year ago,” said De Jesus. “UST improved, actually it’s one of those teams that I’m really scared of, and we’re lucky to get past them.”
And Reyes is thankful that their opponents are starting to give them the respect that they are due.
“The respect is there, and I’m thankful that they are giving it to us,” said Reyes. “We’re also trying to match up with them, they have quality players and that’s why they won. Again, I’m thankful because this was a good experience for our players.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.