Reigning champion University of the Philippines is looking good after posting five wins in six starts in the ongoing Season 85 University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
Still, Fighting Maroons coach Goldwyn Monteverde is far from satisfied.
Monteverde said their slow start is a cause of concern that could eventually hurt them in their bid to defend the title that they won for the first time since 1986 last year.
Against University of the East, the Maroons’ slow start was very obvious as they squandered an early lead and had to climb from an eight-point hole before eking out an 84-77 escape.
“We started out slow again. We really need to work on our inconsistencies,” Monteverde said.
Monteverde also rued UP’s perimeter defense as they allowed the Red Warriors to have good looks for 12-of-29 shooting from the outside.
“UE made a lot of three-points in the first half. I think we need to address that in our upcoming games. Fortunately, we defended much better in the fourth quarter so at least we got the win,” the Fighting Maroons mentor said.
UP trailed 38-41, at the half before stepping on the gas in the second half to create separation.
The Fighting Maroons built a 79-69 cushion in the last 42.8 seconds of the game but faced a scare in the last 15.3 ticks when UE came back within three, 77-80.
Malick Diouf and Harold Alarcon sank both their pair of charities to put the game away for UP.
Monteverde praised his players for showing composure down the stretch but would rather not see his team in the same situation.
“Well, as much as possible I don’t want my team to be in that situation. We have to be consistent right from the very start,” he said.
“Good thing towards the end we were able to execute and defense improved. They responded well to that situation.”
The Fighting Maroons will close the first round against skidding University of Santo Tomas on Saturday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.