LOSING STREAK. The UP Fighting Maroons had fewer bright spots than Paul Desiderio's hair in their loss to the NU Bulldogs. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines - Three new hairstlyes couldn’t save them from losing 3 straight games.
From ranking as high as second place after beating champion DLSU, the UP Fighting Maroons now find themselves finishing sixth in the first round after a late collapse to the NU Bulldogs, 77-70.
Despite their new do’s, the now-blonde Paul Desiderio and Jun Manzo went bleach-white instead of red-hot, while the new braids of Javi Gomez de Liano didn’t help as he blanked all of his shots in the crucial 4th quarter. Bad times turned to worse as lead point guard Manzo suffered an ankle sprain early in the third frame and would not return.
Team captain Desiderio still led the Maroons’ charge with 15 points, although he also took 15 shots to get there. The injured Manzo abruptly finished the game with just 6 points and a lone assist in 17 minutes while older GDL brother ended with 10 points, 8 boards and a team-high 6 helpers.
Although Coach Bo Perasol refused to call the 3-4 stretch a slump for his team, he still expressed his disappointment with the team and his own performance. “We were all disappointed in the last 2 games. Di pwedeng “muntik na tayong manalo.” We just need to find a way to get through that hump.” (“We can’t accept just ‘we almost won.’”)
“It shouldn’t have been easy, but we could’ve been 5-2 right now instead of 3-4,” Perasol added. “The other one [against Adamson] was last 2 seconds, the other [against NU] was a minute and 30. It really hurts because I believe it could’ve gone either way.”
Perasol remains hopeful for the second round but also admits that getting 5 more wins would be a tough challenge. Manzo’s injury is just the icing on the rotten cake as the entire team was waiting for a return that never happened. Streaky reserve Diego Dario tried to make up for the loss with 11 points – his first double-digit game of the season – but it wasn’t enough.
Fortunately, Manzo’s sprain doesn’t appear to be serious, according to Perasol. “He’s hurting right now, but we’re hoping he’s going to play in the next games.”
Right now, UP still has Dario and Jarrell Lim manning the point. However, Coach Bo was split on who would get the keys to the offense that Manzo has temporarily dropped. “It should be both of them. They have to share.” – Rappler.com