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Maroons stay focused, hungry

The grind continues for the University of the Philippines.

Already assured of a Final Four seat and riding on a six-game winning streak, the Fighting Maroons are taking the long break to rest and recuperate before going back to their usual gym workout for their remaining outings in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 men’s basketball elimination round.

The reigning champions sit on top of the standings with a 9-1 win-loss record, but head coach Goldwin Monteverde does not want his boys to lose momentum.

“I guess, we can’t be too comfortable. What is important is how we will end the season. So, we’re not really into where we are at the standings,” he said.

“We want to focus on ourselves, as a team, and what to improve on. So, in every game that we play in, we just try to view the game, talk about it, and find ways to improve. That’s our focus.”

The league took a ceasefire to give way for the country’s campaign in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier. It will resume on 17 November with a quadruple-header at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Monteverde thought that the break would be good for some of his players still nursing injuries, especially prized forward Carl Tamayo, who needs rest and rehab after sustaining a right ankle sprain.
The sophomore begged off from joining Gilas Pilipinas in its road games in Jordan and Saudi Arabia on Friday and Monday.

“We had a tough game schedule so we’ll get some rest to start the break. But you know, we need to really work hard and look at what like I said needs to be improved on. Definitely, there’s a lot,” Monteverde said.

“Good thing everybody’s really committed to the process of building the team.”

Like Monteverde, center Malick Diouf knows the importance of keeping their mind focused on their goal.

“I don’t think we’re going to have a break. We’re going to practice every day. But, for now, we just have to focus on the next games. Like, be ready,” Diouf said.

“If some of us are going to like, take it easy or relax, we don’t need that right now. We don’t need that. We just have to focus on the next game and play hard, work hard, and wait for the next,” he added.
The Fighting Maroons will get back into action against Far Eastern University next week.

They will then face De La Salle University on 20 November, University of Santo Tomas on 23 November before closing the eliminations with a marquee rematch against Ateneo de Manila University on 26 November.

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