Godfrey Okumu on UP missing Final Four: ‘We didn’t work and play to our potential’
MANILA, Philippines—University of the Philippines had all kinds of momentum going into the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
The Lady Maroons won the preseason double when they became champions in the two collegiate tournaments of the Premier Volleyball League and the Philippine Super Liga but that success failed translate to their mother league.
UP was officially eliminated from the UAAP Final Four race after a five-set loss to National University, 25-21, 26-24, 17-25, 23-25, 17-15, Sunday marking the third straight year that the Lady Maroons failed to get to big dance.
Lady Maroons head coach Godfrey Okumu said he’s as shocked as anyone else when UP devolved from a title favorite to a Final Four spectator.
“It’s a bad finish, we started well, the finish is not good and I think we’re a good team but we didn’t work and play to our potential,” said Okumu. “If we could’ve played to our potential, then, we’d be talking about a different thing.”
“You saw my teams in the PSL and the PVL, and you saw my UAAP team that it was strong but I believe there are questions you are asking yourselves like ‘why did it happen like this?’ Sometimes it’s not only the result from the players who played well but there are also other factors that sometimes affect the team.”
UP did have a solid start in the tournament going 5-3 in its first eight games and was even tied with defending champion De La Salle, University of Santo Tomas, and Far Eastern University for the second spot in the ladder.
Things slowly spiraled for the Lady Maroons when they lost two straight games against the Lady Tamaraws and the Golden Tigresses, both of whom benefited from UP’s loss to NU as they officially secured semifinals slots.
“I still can’t digest what just happened because if we’re going to start fighting and finish by not fighting then it’s really hard,” said Okumu. “I hope that we will regroup and think of a way forward.”
“It’s kind of unreal when you win two championships and you don’t make it to the Final Four. We left this game to chance, and we also had chances to win many games before this one. Maybe luck’s not on our side.”