Once again, UST will look to get past the heartbreak

Naveen Ganglani
Once again, UST will look to get past the heartbreak
The Growling Tigers are struggling to find their form this season but must forget their losses quickly in order to make a return trip to the Finals

MANILA, Philippines – Over the past few years, it’s hard to think of a team in the UAAP that has gone through more heartbreak than the UST Growling Tigers.

In the 2012 UAAP Finals, the Growling Tigers managed to build a huge lead in Game 1, only to collapse late and surrender a 1-0 deficit to the Ateneo Blue Eagles. In Game 2, once again, the Growling Tigers were within striking distance at the end of the game, but then Kiefer Ravena, a sophomore at that time, put the exclamation point on the contest, the series, and the championship.

In 2013, UST lost fifth-year man Jeric Teng to injury early in the season, but got him back in time to pull off an impressive run to the finals, where they took Game 1 against the DLSU Green Archers. It seemed as if the fates had aligned for Coach Pido Jarencio to finally win his first championship in seven years, but then La Salle won Game 2 to even the series and force a deciding Game 3.

And then that’s when it all happened: the 15-point lead that was squandered in half a quarter, the miss by Aljon Mariano to end regulation, the shot by Almond Vosotros to put La Salle ahead, and then the three-pointer by Karim Abdul that rimmed out and put an end to Teng’s UAAP career without a title.

In Season 77, The Tigers got off to a 3-1 start to the season, and were so close to making it 4-1. But on Wednesday, August 6, Ravena got in the way again and continued his torment over University of Sto. Tomas.

Once again, the Growling Tigers are left with no choice but to move on from the pain, move on to fight another day.

“Ang instruction ko kasi is to foul, kasi meron pa kaming one foul to give,” UST head coach Bong Dela Cruz said after watching his squad let one get out of their hands against Ateneo.

(My instruction was to foul because we had one foul to give.)

“Maganda yung linaro ng mga bata. Kaya lang at the end of the game, talo kami, so talo pa rin.”

(The boys played well. But at the end of the game, we still lost)

It didn’t help that big man Karim Abdul, who’s played well enough to warrant MVP consideration this season, blasted some of his teammates in front of the media.

“We have a lot of veteran players like Janjan (Sheriff) and Paolo Pe who’ve been here five years, but everybody is not contributing the way we need them to,” he said.

“Some guys don’t want to take on their responsibilities. It’s really pitiful.”

Dela Cruz, having heard of Abdul’s words, explained that it was just a natural reaction considering the circumstances of the defeat.

“Natural lang yun,” he said. “Natural lang yung feelings na ganun.”

(It’s natural. Feelings like that are natural.)

“Gusto niya manalo eh.”

(He wants to win.)

But based on Abdul’s other claims, it seems like some of UST’s problems stems from before the Ateneo loss.

“I don’t know what to say, man. Every day, we are going to say bawi next game, bawi next game (let’s get back next game), but every day it’s the same mistakes. What are we going to say? Bawi next game again and then we’re going to lose?”

While this issue between Abdul and the rest of the team gets sorted out, Growling Tigers fans can find comfort in the latest performance of Aljon Mariano, who seems to have awaken from his slump dating back to UST’s opening game.

After having pedestrian shooting numbers in his team’s first four games, Mariano bounced back against the Blue Eagles, finishing with 17 points and 4 rebounds and hitting the clutch shots in the fourth quarter for UST before he fouled out.

Last season, Mariano was called the “Clutch Cat” for his fourth quarter heroics. On Wednesday, finally, he played like he deserved the nickname.

“Sana pagpatuloy niya yung laro niya,” Growling Tigers forward Kevin Ferrer said about his teammate.

(Hopefully he continues his great play.)

Coach Dela Cruz also chimed in: “Syempre, happy ako, kaya lang talo eh. Kung nanalo kami, mas maganda sana.”

(Of course, I’m happy with Aljon’s performance. However, we lost. It would have been better if we won.)

“Syempre, meron, kasi medyo nakukuha ko na rin rhythm ko,” (Of course there’s some positives to the loss because I kind of got my rhythm back.) said Mariano, who also mentioned his team needs to prepare better for their upcoming game.

That upcoming game is the rematch of last year’s finals. Against the team who stole the title from the Tigers’ claws.

“Oo, syempre, hindi naman mawawala yun. Lalo na saamin na part nang team last year,” Mariano answered when asked if there’s extra motivation in going up against La Salle.

(Yes, of course, that won’t go away. Especially for us players who were in the team last year.)

“Syempre, may extra motivation yun kasi sila yung tumalo saamin nung championship. Kailangan lang namin manalo talaga.”

(Of course, there’s extra motivation because they were the ones who beat us for the championship. We just really need to win.)

Before the UAAP season started, Coach Dela Cruz said he would retain the 3 Ps of Coach Jarencio, who left for a coaching job at the PBA over the summer.

Puso. (Heart)


Palaban. (Fight.)

Once again, UST will have to have puso to continue fighting on despite the disappointment.

Once again, UST will have to use their pride to get past the heartbreak caused by Ravena and his Blue Eagles.

Once again, UST will need to show as much palaban as they can with the defending champions coming for them next.  Rappler.com

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