Tigers more focused now vs Archers

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - October 7, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - De La Salle U and University of Santo Tomas will engage in a deciding game of a championship series for the fourth time in five head-to-head encounters in the UAAP men’s basketball wars, setting another down-to-the-wire finish for the diadem.

The protagonists for the Season 76 crown have fought to a finale that went the full route for the first time in 1994, with the Tigers led by Bal David and Dennis Espino coming back from a 0-1 deficit to beat the Archers crew of Mark Telan, Elmer Lago and current DLSU coach Juno Sauler.

It was basically the same story the following year as the Tigers beat the Archers in come-from-behind fashion to score a three-peat. They went at it for a third straight season in 1996 but this time, the Tigers prevailed in two games, to cop their fourth consecutive championship.

La Salle got back three years later, with a group bannered by Dino Aldeguer, Ren-ren Ritualo and San Juan Vice Mayor Francis Zamora pulling off a 2-1 fightback of a triumph over Niño Gelig and co. of UST.

The ongoing showdown for the Season 76 diadem has basically lived up to the two’s thrilling face-offs in the 1990s.

UST, the first No. 4 seed to reach the finals, stunned DLSU in the opener, 73-72, but DLSU got back with a 77-70 triumph in Game Two to level the series.

They will go for the marbles on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena, giving each side a full week to plot their strategies in the winner-take-all.

In the meantime, they have things to work on: The Tigers will be trying to refocus on the task at hand after getting “distracted” in Game Two, and the Archers are seeking to improve on their finishing kick, among others.

Jarencio admitted that his squad allowed themselves to be carried away by the euphoria of winning the opener and getting the inside track for the crown.

“Parang na-out of focus kami (We somehow lost focus),” Jarencio said. 

He shared how they “deviated” from the usual rituals they were doing when they won four games prior to this, like saying the complete mysteries of rosary on the team bus, getting into the venue two hours before tipoff, and observing a business-like mood in the dugout.

“Sa dugout kanina ang daming tao. Last four games namin hindi ganon ang atmosphere, tahimik, naka-focus. Kahapon, andaming nagdala ng pagkain sa practice (There was a fiesta-like atmosphere in the dugout and during practices. Our last four games were not like that, we had no distractions and really focused),” said Jarencio.

To address this, the team will observe closed-door practices the entire week.

Despite failing to close it out, the Tigers are grateful for a second chance to snare the title. 

“Tumabla lang sila. May game pa, may chance pa tayong bumalik, mag-adjust at manalo. Babawi tayo, ganito naman ang team na ito, pag natatalo, bumabawi, pag do-or-die game, iba na ang laro (They just tied the series. We still have one game, one chance to regroup, make adjustments and win it all. We’ll bounce back, that has been the nature of this team, especially in do-or-die games),” said Jarencio.

La Salle coach Juno Sauler stressed the need to improve some more notwithstanding the convincing Game Two triumph.

“We’ll start working on improvements starting tomorrow (today). I know we did a lot better in assists-to-turnover ratio at 16:8. If we could just minimize some turnovers in the endgame. Not only in the aspect of basketball but the mindset, how to play in the fourth quarter and how to close out games,” said Sauler.

He rued their showing in the payoff period, where they were scoreless the last four minutes.

“Maybe we could have had a better output on the fourth quarter. We only had 13, that’s our lowest in the game. Maybe they got tired because we only used seven players. Hopefully we can score more than 13 in the next game,” he said.

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