UAAP: Consistency remains Fighting Maroons’ issue heading into crucial stretch
MANILA, Philippines — University of the Philippines’ loss to La Salle on Saturday highlighted the aspects that the Fighting Maroons have to improve on especially heading into the crucial stretch of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament.
While coach Goldwin Monteverde lauded his wards’ best efforts in the 82-80 setback, it still proves they remain a work in progress–especially in consistency.
“It’s positive that they never gave up also but we need to you know and look at the things that we need to improve on. Going towards the latter part of the season, we need to learn as a team,” said Monteverde after their seven-game winning streak was snapped on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We need to improve on our consistency. We started well in the third quarter, credit to La Salle, they bounced back after we led the third quarter,” he added, referring to the 12-point third-quarter lead they failed to sustain.
The reigning UAAP champion coach said they were simply lacking on both ends as the Fighting Maroons committed four straight turnovers in the final stretch, where La Salle built a 79-69 spread with 1:14 left.
Although JD Cagulangan and Zavier Lucero made the crucial threes to cut down the lead within two, 80-78 with 12.5 seconds remaining, it wasn’t enough for the Fighting Maroons to complete a comeback as Green Archers’ rookie Kevin Quiambao sealed their win with his crucial free throws to cap an 18-point and nine-rebound performance.
“I guess (we lacked) on both ends, we need to improve our offense and defense. We gave up a lot of turnovers and they had 12 steals from us,” said Monteverde in Filipino. “Offensively, we need to know the discipline of our offense. Defensively, I think they scored 48 points in the paint, so, we need to really toughen up, especially our interior defense.”
UP failed to secure at least a playoff for a twice-to-beat advantage, sliding to 10-2 with Final Four-bound NU (9-3) and Ateneo (8-3) moving closer to the top spot.
But Monteverde refused to dwell on other teams who are chasing them as they seek to bounce back against the also-ran University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday.
“My focus is on our team. What’s important for us is what we need to work as a team. And as I said earlier, our coaching staff will really look at what needs to be improved on,” he said.
“We’ve always approached the game with the same mindset, preparing to the best of our capability and having that same respect for all the teams that we can’t underestimate. We’re really gonna prepare for it.”
The UP coach said Terrence Fortea, who missed the past two games, is still recovering from an ankle injury he sustained in practice during the Fiba break. The team is hoping for his return against Ateneo over the weekend.