UAAP juniors finals: Blue Eaglets ‘outworked’ by Bullpups in Game 1 loss
There’s nothing technical about why Ateneo lost to National University in Game 1 of their best-of-three title series on Monday.
Blue Eaglets head coach Reggie Varilla said his team was simply “outworked” by the Bullpups, who gained an all-important 1-0 edge in the UAAP Season 81 juniors basketball finals.
“i think we need to give credit to NU. They really outworked us today,” Varilla, who is in his first year as shot-caller, admitted.
“It was obvious the number of times they got the rebounds and 50-50 balls. We played solid defense but we couldn’t close it out with a defensive rebound,” he added.
Despite Ateneo’s glaring size advantage in the frontcourt with 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto and 6-foot-7 Geo Chiu patrolling the paint, the Blue Eaglets still couldn’t dominate the rebounding department.
In fact, NU feasted on the offensive glass with 21 boards, which is usually a result of the Bullpups putting more effort. The Bullpups’ frontcourt tandem of Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao combined for 29 points and 25 rebounds.
Sotto said that though Ateneo’s effort was there, he admitted that it wasn’t always present in every play.
“There effort was there but not all the time. It was inconsistent,” Sotto, who led his team with 16 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks, said in Filipino.
It was evident in the second half where the Bullpups took control after trailing by five at the break.
“They hit some big shots and suddenly we were down by nine. From that point one, I think the players got confused but it’s part of the learning experience,” Varilla said.
Ateneo has yet to beat NU in three tries this season, giving the Bullpups somewhat of a psychological edge heading into Game 2 on Friday.
Varilla though, said that the 0-3 record against NU this season is the least of his worries.
“Not really worried about that. We need two more wins to be champions. They’re just ahead, 1-0,” he said. “My trust and confidence with my boys are still the same.”