Perasol compares UP’s first win to a light at the end of the tunnel
MANILA, Philippines – The final buzzer sounded, the win was guaranteed, and head coach Bo Perasol gave a wide smile before accepting a crushing hug from one of his captains, Paul Desiderio.
Clearly, it was an emotional moment for University of the Philippines’ new main guy on the bench and his boys.
The Maroons finally earned a victory in UAAP Season 79 after winning a closely-fought contest against the UE Red Warriors, 75-71, on Wednesday, September 21.
“The [ironic] thing about this is we practice well all the time, and our challenge with everybody else was just to transfer what we do in practice and do it in the game,” Perasol said during the post-game press conference at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Despite facing a big deficit early, 13-3, the Maroons clawed back to trail only by one at the half. The game went down to the wire, and when UP needed a leader to deliver, Jett Manuel answered the call.
The veteran playing in his last season as a Maroon nailed a tough jumper from the foul line to break a 69-69 tie with a minute remaining. Later on with 26.9 seconds left, Manuel hit two free throws to give his team a two-possession lead. The Warriors didn’t get any closer from there.
“It’s kind of very obvious that there’s a big gap between our mental set up when we practice and play. I have two guys here who have been very parang consistent despite the fact that we lost the first 3 games,” Perasol said about Manuel and Desiderio, who were right beside him in the presser.
“They kept on going on, they knew that - this is like a cliche - there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and this is some kind of a light for us. It’s kind of a proof and evidence that we can win games against a tough team like UE.”
Manuel and Desiderio had 17 points each and combined for 14 rebounds. Dave Moralde also played well with 13 points, while rookie Javi Gomez De Liano had 7 points and 7 boards.
“I hope we could capitalize on this and, well, there’s 10 more games,” said Perasol.
The head coach also explained that keeping calm and avoiding turnovers late in the game - they finished with 31 total - helped the Maroons finally get over the hump and win a close contest.
“There’s nothing spectacular with what we did. We just played simple basketball - we defended, we made shots, we made our free throws which we were not able to do in the last 3 games,” Perasol explained.
Those are the things his team will need to do even better in its next game that will be against defending champion FEU, which is 2-2 so far this season.
“That’s going to be a challenge for us, but we know we have what it takes to also compete with FEU,” Perasol said.
“We just have to make sure we’re going to plan ahead against them, so we’re positive we can compete with FEU.”
For now, though, UP will celebrate its first win of the season. With a bonfire? “Wala pa (not yet),” Perasol laughed in response. – Rappler.com