Despite clear preseason romp, UP Fighting Maroons look to get better
Goldwyn Monteverde insists on finding more ways for his souped-up University of the Philippines (UP) squad to improve even after ruling a preseason tournament that clearly showed the Maroons’ ability to regain the UAAP crown.
“We’re treating it day-to-day,” Monteverde said when asked if the Fighting Maroons’ triumph in the FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup last Wednesday would create added pressure in their UAAP bid later in the year.
UP defeated De La Salle University, 87-76, in the final held in San Juan City to take the title of the tourney that is used as a dress rehearsal before the collegiate basketball season kicks off in September.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Harold Alarcon and Malick Diouf led the charge for the Fighting Maroons during the course of the campaign, and they were also vital in edging out a La Salle team that was unbeaten until the championship game.
But Monteverde believes things can get better between now and the UAAP opener, especially now that UP is expected to have a big target on its back.
“There will be a lot of questions about the UAAP, but what about tomorrow?” said Monteverde. “Because if you saw the game, you’ll see what needs to be improved. So each day there would be another challenge for us.”
The Fighting Maroons have plans to head to Serbia and, possibly South Korea in July to continue their buildup toward getting the UAAP title back after falling short against the Ateneo Blue Eagles last December.
As Monteverde and his UP team have plenty left to be desired, La Salle is hoping to atone for being bridesmaids and produce a different result in another championship tussle.
La Salle, carrying the EcoOil name, moved on the cusp of repeating as winners of the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup after its rout of the San Beda-flavored Marinerong Pilipino in the opener of their best-of-three series, 108-82, at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
“The players know that the school was expecting a championship yesterday, but we couldn’t pull it off,” said assistant coach Gian Nazario. “They’re just motivated to get it here in the D-League.”
The Green Archers, led by Mark Nonoy, CJ Austria and Michael Phillips, can take it on Monday at the same venue, and equal the feat they’ve done last September when they rule the first D-League tilt since the pandemic.