University of the Philippines has nothing to be ashamed of despite a massive meltdown that gave De La Salle University the Season 86 men’s basketball title of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines late Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fighting Maroons coach Goldwin Monteverde said they gave their best despite suffering one of the most painful setbacks in their collegiate careers.
After falling short last year, UP was heavily expected to clinch the title against a La Salle squad that is making its first finals since 2017.
They flexed their muscles in Game 1 with a 30-point domination, 97-67, before suffering minor bumps in Game 2 that sent them to an 82-60 setback.
In Game 3, the Fighting Maroons started hot but suddenly went gun shy in the crucial stretch while the Green Archers, behind Finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao, ran wild and sealed a title-clinching 73-69 victory.
Monteverde, who coached Quiambao in high school, admitted that the setback was truly painful. He, however, doesn’t have any regret, knowing that the Fighting Maroons gave their best in the biggest, most crucial game of their careers.
“In times like this, you could feel their pain. Even if you are hurting, you have to be there as well for them and tell them life goes on. I was just trying to encourage them to keep going,” Monteverde said.
“I believe they gave their best. That’s life.’
Bright future beckons UP.
Transferees CJ Cansino and Malick Diouf are the only players who will leave the school, creating an intact core of Rookie of the Year Francis Lopez and playmaker JD Cagulangan carrying the cudgels with role players Harold Alarcon, Gerry Abadianio, Janjan Felicilda and Terrence Fortea.
Rookie big men Luis Pablo and Seven Gagate, who both came from the La Salle Green Hills high school program, are expected to be older and wiser entering their sophomore seasons while San Beda University-Rizal high school guard Chris Hubilla will also be suiting up in Season 87.