De La Salle University is not losing hope of ending a seven-year title drought despite absorbing a humiliating defeat in Game 1 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball best-of-three finals series.
For Green Archers head coach Topex Robinson, University of the Philippines may have won the opening battle but the war is far from over.
La Salle is licking the wounds it suffered from a 67-97 drubbing last Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But the Green Archers vow to turn the tables around come Sunday for the pivotal Game 2 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Well, obviously, UP just showed us why they’re the No. 1 team in the UAAP right now. At this point, we cannot really look for other excuses than to really bounce back come Sunday,” the first year mentor said.
La Salle made its return to the finals after a runner-up finish in 2017 and was full of confidence after stringing nine straight wins heading to the title round behind to be crowned Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao.
But the Green Archers, obviously, were not prepared for the physicality, stingy defense, and shooting barrage that the Fighting Maroons threw at them. It turned into a massacre and into an infamous record of being the most lopsided Game 1 result in the Final Four era.
La Salle shot 38.6 percent from the field, throwing bricks from the three-point area with 2-of-23 outside clip. The taller UP side lorded over the boards, 55-45, and forced the Green Archers to commit 18 costly turnovers which it converted to 24 turnover points.
The Fighting Maroons’ bench mob was efficient with 41 points compared to only 22 of La Salle.
“Obviously, it really hurt everybody. But we have to really go through this. Winning a championship isn’t gonna be easy and I guess taking the easy route will give us this kind of result,” Robinson said.
“Again, we have to go back to trying to figure out how we’re gonna get our guys in a better situation to succeed and then again, just like what I said, it’s done and over with, it really tasted sour.”
What’s worse for La Salle was Quiambao, the first local player to emerge as MVP in six seasons, had a terrible showing with 11 points on 4-of-10 field goal shooting, six rebounds and three assists after a stellar performance in the elimination round where he almost averaged a triple-double.
“For me, I was surprised with the different looks they gave me and didn’t get to adjust in time. The fault is on me because I’m one of the leaders of the team,” Quiambao said.
“I have to make the necessary adjustments and move on from this game,” the Season 85 Rookie of the Year said.
The Green Archers, according to Quiambao, fell silent at the dugout after the game as the rout hit them hard.
“After the game, obviously, everyone felt dismayed with the result. I’m disappointed personally about my showing, as in -22 the whole game, it was terrible. But the good thing is the finals is a series. So, we still have Game 2,” he said.
Robinson is clinging to his faith that La Salle will turn the series around and force a Game 3 next Wednesday.
“You know, there’s no time for us to really cry over spilled milk. If this is one of the records of the worst loss in the finals, we could also do something about it, you know, we play Sunday,” Robinson said.
“We know what championship basketball is all about and we know what it takes and we just have to really be prepared for that and make really (good) preparations for our game on Sunday.”