It was all smiles for the team and head coach Aldin Ayo who led the University of Santo Tomas to their first back-to-back wins, ending the first round at a 3-4 slate.
"They were just playing basketball, they're having fun, and they were playing as a team. I think that was the difference compared to our previous games," said Ayo during the post-game press conference.
"Habang tumatagal yung liga, for sure matututo yung mga rookies. Not only the rookies, of course pati yung mga holdovers."
(As the league progresses, for sure the rookies will learn. Not only the rookies, of course, but also the holdovers.)
CJ Cansino starred again for the Growling Tigers especially in the first half as he tallied 16 points after going 5-of-6 from the field. Co-rookie Ken Zamora then stepped up in the second half go help maintain the lead.
The Growling Tigers had a chance of blowing out the Katipunan-based squad as they entered the quarter up by 30 point. The Fighting Maroons then rallied back to outscore them 26-10, but UST was able to survive the comeback.
"Sabi ni coach maliliit kami, kailangan kong tumulong sa rebound as a small man. I'm doing my best na gagawin ko talaga yung sinabi ni coach para makatulong sa team," admitted Cansino on what he has to work more since the team lost big man Steve Akomo to injury.
(Coach said that we're small, so I have to help in rebounding as a small man. I'm doing my best to follow and do whatever coach says to help the team.)
Patience was also the key to the Growling Tigers team both in the game and in practice as they are expected to come out stronger in the second round with their new-found groove.
"Sa practice talaga nag-start [yung pasensya] kasi sila coach, hindi sila nagsasawa sa amin. Konting mali, kailangan nang itama para pagdating sa game, magtuluy-tuloy na," said Zamora.
(The value of patience starts in practice because the coaches don't give up on us. If there is a small mistake, we need to correct it so that when it comes to the game, it will just continue.)
The Growling Tigers will start the second round against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws – who claimed a share of second place with defending champion Ateneo – on Sunday, October 14, 2 pm at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.