MANILA, Philippines – Backed against the wall, there's no doubt that UST big man Karim Abdul will give everything he has left for Game 2 of the UAAP Season 78 Finals.
The 6-foot-7 veteran center labored through Game 1 logging 36 minutes to finish with 19 points and 9 rebounds. He was visibly exhausted in some stretches, especially towards the end when FEU blasted UST with a game-sealing 12-0 run to take Game 1, 73-62.
Though the graduating Abdul, knowing this is his last chance for a UAAP championship with the Tigers, is willing to play at the same level for Game 2 on Saturday, November 28. (READ: UST motivated to avoid same letdown from past two finals appearances)
“I don’t have a choice. When you’re a player, you just have to get over the tiredness and don’t think about it. Just think about winning and that’s all that matters,” said Abdul, who also took the blame for the loss with a critical turnover during the Tamaraws’ run.
“Whatever happens, whatever obstacle that comes in your way, you don’t look at it. Next game, I’m still prepared to play that kind of game.”
UST needs to win Game 2 to force a winner-take-all Game 3 on Wednesday, December 2, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fortunately for them, a bit of history will be on their side. Despite 71% of Game 1 winners taking the UAAP crown, the Tigers own 3 of only 6 comebacks from a 0-1 finals series deficit in the Final Four era – including their last championship run in 2006 against Ateneo.
The Tamaraws are also 0-6 in their last 8 finals games played at the Big Dome, per UAAP chief statistician Pong Ducanes. (READ: Victorious FEU wants to avoid last year’s UAAP Finals mistake)
If UST does not end up singing its school hymn first on Saturday, there will be no more tomorrow – only another heartbreak of a bridesmaid finish for the 3rd time in 4 years.
“Wala na dapat intindihin na pagod (We shouldn’t worry about exhaustion anymore),” graduating team captain Kevin Ferrer declared. “Mga beterano na kami. Wala nang pagod-pagod (We’re veterans. There's no such thing as exhaustion).” – Rappler.com