Maroons get half the job done with No. 2 seeding, Final Four bonus
After a 71-68 cliffhanger over De La Salle that clinched a twice-to-beat bonus in the Final Four of UAAP Season 82, it was as if a huge weight was taken off his shoulders and the rest of the Fighting Maroons, who whooped it up by pouring water on their coach as if they had won the championship already.
The Maroons still have one more assignment in the elimination round on Wednesday against the unbeaten Ateneo Blue Eagles at Mall of Asia Arena, but Perasol said his players needed to let their emotions out after a roller-coaster elimination round.
“It was a blessing to achieve this goal,” said Perasol. “I had to allow my players to be proud of what they’ve achieved. They’ve been through so much in the elimination round.”
From Perasol’s initial three-game ban that was reduced to two following his apology to the UAAP, to the closely fought matches they had to play, the Maroons’ campaign has been littered with stress and anxiety.
“I think the players and even the coaching staff were really tight because of the pressure that came with the expectations,” Perasol told the Inquirer.
“Losing the game against La Salle could have put us in a really difficult spot and increased the pressure on the players. I couldn’t thank the Lord enough for giving us this win.”
The Maroons did not win by more than six points in their nine victories so far. Two of their victories came by the slimmest of margins.
Heading into the duel with La Salle, the Maroons had a combined 10-point winning margin against National U, University of the East and Adamson.
Yet, here they are—armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the next round—and now the only team in the league that can stop Ateneo from completing a 14-game sweep.
“Honestly, we haven’t really thought about Ateneo because we’re also looking forward to the playoffs. That’s where we will get our ticket to the finals,” said Perasol.
The stepladder format will be applied if the Eagles complete the sweep and advance to the finals, leaving University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern U to contest the right to meet UP, which will have a twice-to-beat edge in the battle for the second championship spot.
“We will be using that Ateneo game to prepare ourselves for the playoffs,” said Perasol, whose outburst in the 63-89 first round loss to Ateneo led to his suspension.
“What’s important right now is that we’ve gotten the twice-to-beat advantage which was our goal right from the start.”
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