MANILA, Philippines – UP’s heart-pounding win over Ateneo to end the UAAP Season 84 elimination round was one for the history books.
It was the Blue Eagles’ first loss since October 10, 2018, back when they dropped a close 60-63 decision to FEU before starting a massive 39-game winning streak. It was also the Fighting Maroons’ first win over their Katipunan rivals since October 8, 2016, back when campus heroes Jett Manuel and Paul Desiderio were still leading the team.
But new UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde is not fully interested in all that elimination round history talk, as his boys seek victory on a bigger stage. With UP’s win, the season now reverts to a traditional Final Four setup following Ateneo’s denial of a sweep and an outright finals berth.
“Winning against Ateneo is a big achievement for us, knowing how Ateneo had that long streak, and they were 13-0,” he said in Filipino after the game. “One thing good for me earlier was our team stayed as a team no matter how close the game was.”
“I’m happy for the win, but of course, we also need to think now about the bigger picture. We’re going to the semifinals, so we need to prepare for that.”
Ironically, the Maroons made their climb back to the finals a little bit tougher with their win over the Eagles since they must now beat third-seeded La Salle on Wednesday, May 4, at 2 pm.
Had Ateneo won to clinch an automatic finals berth, UP would have gotten two extra rest days as La Salle had to first face fourth-seeded FEU in the stepladder semifinals. Instead it is Ateneo who will now face FEU on Wednesday at 6 pm.
But at this point, UP is ready for any challenge thrown its way after multiple close shaves, capped off by the slaying of the Blue Eagle beast long expected to be unbeatable for the foreseeable future.
“I’m very proud of this team because we didn’t have many big wins. A lot of these were close games like this one, and our trust with each other never seemed to waver. Hopefully, we carry this over to the semis,” Monteverde continued.
An experienced championship-winning coach in the UAAP Juniors ranks, Monteverde is gunning for nothing but consistency from his wards as he knows very well that the job is not done until UP ends its decades-long title drought.
“Even though we already knew we had the twice-to-beat advantage, but I’ve been consistent since the start of the season that we’re always still looking for improvement,” he said. “We’ve been really doing our best defensively and offensively. Whatever we did in these last two games, we really gained a lot from it.”
Can coach Goldwin actually win gold in his first season in the seniors division? So far, so good. – Rappler.com