Letran’s title-retention bid in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney got off to a shaky start on Saturday and first-year coach Jeff Napa readily pointed out the crucial things that hounded the Knights in an 85-89 loss dealt by their arch-rivals, the San Beda Red Lions.
Inconsistent defense plays. Poor boxing out. Missed free throws.
Those were the crucial things that Napa felt did the Knights in.
“Marami kaming kulang on defense. Nu’ng simula, we didn’t execute our game plan. Later on, nag-e-execute naman kami pero kulang,” noted Napa, 36, after emerging from their Mall of Asia Arena dugout.
Napa added the Knights also paid a stiff price when they allowed the taller Red Lions, led by Cameroonian import Donald Tankoua, to control the boards 56-46, 20 of them offensively.
But more than their rebounding woes, it was his wards’ inability to make their attempts from the 15-foot line emerged as one of the biggest reasons behind their opening-day downfall, according to Napa.
“‘Yun ‘yung story of the game: Missed free throws,” he said, referring to their 13 misses out of 45 attempts from the stripe. “Kung nag effort kami, iba ‘yung storya.
While veterans Bong Quinto and McJour Luib both fouled out and his pair of big men—Jom Sollano and Felix Apreku—were slowed down by foul woes, Napa refused to point an accusing finger to game officials.
“Wala naman akong magagawa du’n kasi call ng mga referee ‘yun. Pero despite of that, pinakita naman ng mga bata na kung ano man ang mangyari sa kanila, ibibigay pa rin nila ‘yung best nila,” he said.
Letran has the chance to pick up the pieces on Tuesday against Emilio Aguinaldo College at The Arena in San Juan and Napa is confident the Knights can put the bitter lessons into good use.
“I’m sure on our second game. Our players will be ready especially our bench. ‘Yun ang pinaka importante talaga. At healthy na kaming lahat,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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