MANILA, Philippines —For the second straight year, the UP Fighting Maroons blew another Finals series lead to settle for a runner-up finish.
This time, they lost in Game 3 to the De La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament in another heartbreak that UP coach Goldwin Monteverde hopes they learn from.
“Sometimes, even if you’re hurting, you gotta let them know you’re there for them, gotta tell them life goes on. This hard situation would help us and prepare us for bigger things. I was trying to encourage them,” said Monteverde on Wednesday shortly after claiming their silver medal in front of 25,192 fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Fighting Maroons were scoreless in the last six minutes as Kevin Quiambao lifted the Green Archers to end a seven-year title drought.
Harold Alarcon and Francis Lopez made costly miscues down the stretch as they couldn’t make the several opportunities for UP to score.
Monteverde understood that it was part of the game as they shot 1-of-17 from the three-point line and got outrebounded by La Salle, 50-40, or the second straight game.
“Those things really happen, the miscues during the game. For me, they aren’t supposed to happen, but it happens to the best of us. We need to learn not to let it happen again,” he said. “That’s basketball. Sometimes, there are nights like these.”
Despite failing to reclaim the crown anew, the UP coach is confident that Lopez, the Rookie of the Year, and his fellow newcomers will grow after experiencing their first season.
“The experience they got this year will be a big deal, especially for Francis. Although we know his capabilities, there’s a lot of things aside from talent and athleticism that he should learn. I knew this season, whatever his best is, he gave to the team. He’s been big,” Monteverde said. “And for the (other) young guys, this kind of experience, in a way, they should know what it takes, what to work on. They can’t be content. They should use this as motivation for them to bounce back.”
Besides the young guys, Monteverde expects Alarcon, Gerry Abadiano, and other holdovers to step up their game as Malick Diouf and CJ Cansino graduate, while JD Cagulangan will still decide if he will return for another season.
“Harold, Gerry, it will be their fourth season. It’ll be their chance to share what they’ve learned, whether good or bad. What to avoid, what to work on,” said the UP coach.