UAAP Season 82 heartbreak ‘learning experience’ for UP Maroons
MANILA, Philippines—University of the Philippines’ much-hyped campaign in UAAP Season 82 has come to a crashing end, but Bright Akhuetie sees it as a learning experience for the team.
The Fighting Maroons, the second seed after the eliminations, lost twice to University of Santo Tomas in the stepladder semifinals, including a 68-65 heartbreak that put their title hopes to death.
“It’s just a learning experience, we just have to go back and get ourselves together and build that chemistry more,” said Akhuetie as UP failed to return to the title round.
On paper, UP had the best team that was assembled ahead of the tournament with Akhuetie anchoring the middle and former NCAA Division I player Kobe Paras and one-time UAAP champion Ricci Rivero manning the wings.
Season 80 Rookie of the Year Juan Gomez de Liaño and veteran Jun Manzo held the guard spots.
It wasn’t just the starting five that had the reputation since the bench provided ample support in the likes of Janjan Jaboneta, Javi Gomez de Liaño, Jerson Prado, Noah Webb, and David Murrell.
But as Akhuetie said, chemistry was lacking in the talented team.
Despite finishing with a 9-5 record, the Fighting Maroons tallied a negative in point differential giving up 1,223 points while scoring 1,155.
UP also failed to blow out any team in the tournament with its 62-56 win over University of the East being its biggest win in terms of point differential.
Akhuetie, who had 16 points and 17 rebounds against the Growling Tigers, said that losing the chance to get back to the stings but they just have to move on from it.
“It just hurts to let it go but we’ll be finem,” said Akhuetie. “Let’s go chill and unwind before we start talking about next season. UP fight man, yes we’re going to fight.”
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