UAAP: Determined UP to just ‘keep pounding’ for twice-to-beat edge
MANILA, Philippines—Despite having secured a Final Four spot in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament, the work continues for the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.
Keep pounding. This is the Fighting Maroons’ battle cry in their bid to lock in a twice-to-beat advantage as the elimination round winds down.
UP seemed to march to coach Goldwin Monteverde’s mantra in its dominant 81-64 win over Far Eastern University at Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, according to assistant Christian Luanzon.
“Coach Gold reminds his players with this thing we call, ‘keep pounding.’ All throughout the game, he was reminding the players that the home run plays won’t be captured with just one pound,” said Luanzon.
That was exactly the blueprint followed by the Fighting Maroons in their drubbing of the Tamaraws.
Despite already hitting the bullseye at the half with a 34-27 lead, the Season 85 finalists kept hitting all bases to bury coach Denok Miranda’s squad into Final Four obscurity.
While it may have been a convincing win for the Diliman side, Luanzon reiterated that the goalpost moved a bit farther for the Fighting Maroons.
First, it was a sure spot in the Final Four. They achieved that a few days ago after defeating University of the East, 79-72. Now, the new target is securing the first or second seed.
“We’re just taking this one game and practice at a time. We know what’s at stake and last game it clinched our final four spot. Now, we have another goal,” explained Luanzon.
CALM, COOL AND COMMITTED
To notch what’s at stake, the Fighting Maroons need to be committed to the task at hand.
Fortunately for UP’s coaching staff, the players have been committed since failing to be back-to-back champions last year.
“They’ve been committed since January 15. That’s when we started training after finishing on December 19 last year, so it was just pretty much a month off then we had training and preseason tournaments,” bared the assistant mentor.
“From a commitment standpoint, they’re there. They’re always reminded that it’s more than the attendance but also the mental part in execution on both ends. Whether it’s our sets on offense or defense, it requires a high level of focus for these players and that’s the commitment they’re showing on the floor to execute them.”
With just two games left to play in the season’s elimination round, the committed Maroons have a clear memo.
Like today, UP will have to keep pounding to take care of business to return to the UAAP’s grandest stage.
“The good thing about our situation is, destiny’s still in our hands so we’ll take care of business in the next two games and the twice-to-beat [advantage] is obviously, no question, the focus.”