Monday, 7 October 2013 15 Comments
by JOSEF T. RAMOS
COACH Pido Jerencio of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) considered the one-week break given by the league a good blessing for the Growling Tigers, who survived three pressure-packed sudden-death games from the elimination to the semifinal round.
After winning Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series against De La Salle University (73-72), UST failed to sweep the series in Game 2 after La Salle tied the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 76 men’s basketball finals to 1-1 via 77-70 victory.
Jarencio admitted the fatigue factor had affected their game since their three consecutive crucial matches before the finals.
UST knocked out Ateneo De Manila University in the elimination round with an 82-74 victory for the last final four spot and then defeated twice No. 1 National University, which armed with a twice-to-beat incentive, in the semifinals.
“We played three consecutive pressure-packed games while La Salle was resting that’s why it’s a very tough championship series,” said Jarencio after the Game 2 loss. “One week rest is a good blessing in order for my players to rest and refresh themselves.”
Jarencio though acknowledged the aggression shown by the rival team in Game 2.
“They came prepared and their big men caught us off-balance,” said Jarencio, referring to La Salle head coach Juno Sauler’s big guys Norbert Torres and Arnold Van Opstal plus forward Jeron Teng, who was responsible for La Salle’s 57-39 edge in rebounding and 18-6 in second chance points.
With the one-week rest, Jarencio said he is hoping his players will get their confidence back particularly forward Aljon Mariano, Kevin Ferrer and Karim Abdul, among others in the do-or-die Game 3 set on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
A win by UST in Game 3 will earn them 19 men’s basketball titles and a tie with Far Eastern University.
La Salle head coach Juno Sauler also expects UST to come back strong in Game 3.
“We are expecting them to come back and we cannot allow them to dominate us even at the early stage of the game. We must keep our composure and confidence,” said Sauler, who will rely on Jeron Teng, Norbert Torres, LA Revilla, Arnold Van Opstal and Almond Vosotros, among others.
Jeric Teng, the elder brother of La Salle’s Jeron and a graduating senior of UST, had a career-best 28 points in Game 2 loss.