You ain’t seen nothing yet
University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol will be the first to admit that his Fighting Maroons have yet to hit top form even after 14 games in UAAP Season 82.
He’s certainly hoping their finest game comes on Sunday as his well-rested UP squad aims for the second finals berth against a resurgent University of Santo Tomas team in the stepladder semifinals before an expected sellout crowd at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“At the back of our minds, we haven’t maximized ourselves yet,” Perasol told the Inquirer on the eve of their duel with the Growling Tigers. “But the players understand that they have another opportunity to deliver their best against UST.”
Notwithstanding their twice-to-beat advantage, the Maroons are expected to come out strong as they try to topple the Tigers for the first time this season and book a return ticket to the finals opposite unbeaten Ateneo.
A rubber match, if UST forges one, will be played on Wednesday.
UST defeated UP’s star-studded team twice in the elimination round with the Tigers’ latest victory coming on Oct. 16 when they prevailed, 84-78, following Perasol’s return from a two-game suspension.
Those wins count for nothing as far as UST coach Aldin Ayo is concerned as he considers the Maroons “a different team” now in the Final Four.
“All that happened in the elimination round doesn’t mater anymore because they’re a different team and this is the Final Four,” Ayo said following their gutsy 81-71 win over Far Eastern U in the first phase of the stepladder semifinals last Wednesday.
“Everyone will be at their best. Everyone will do what it takes to win.”
Newly minted Most Valuable Player Soulemane Chabi Yo, who had 25 points against the Tamaraws, will be leading the charge for the rejuvenated Tigers.
“When he said he wants to bring a championship to UST, he really means it,” Ayo said of Chabi Yo.
Perasol said his players are entering the duel with the mind-set that they are actually the ones at a disadvantage.
“We’re treating it as a knockout game,” said Perasol, whose team enjoyed an 11-day break.
“I liked the way we practiced in the last three days. We’ve dissected the last two games against UST and there’s nothing there that says we were just outplayed by UST. There’s nothing in our [losses] against UST that we cannot address. So I think we’re ready for them tomorrow (Sunday).”
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.