Last Wednesday was a typical training day for UP. What made it a little different, however, was that the Lady Maroons were waiting for an all-important game result.
And as La Salle downed NU, in effect dashing the Lady Bulldogs’ Final Four hopes, the Diliman belles jumped with joy, knowing that their hard work has paid off as they entered the semifinals for the first time in 12 years.
The celebration, though, was short-lived, as UP quickly returned to the court to prepare for their playoff matchup against defending champion Ateneo on Saturday.
“Hindi pa kasi tapos diba? We’re still in season. May mga problem pa tayo ahead of us,” said coach Jerry Yee. “Masaya pero siyempre dapat hindi contented.”
Believing the Lady Maroons can achieve more than finish in the top 4, Yee said they will gun for at least a good show at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The multi-titled mentor, in his 3rd year with UP, hopes the excitement of making the Final Four will push his ladies to exceed expectations.
“Kailangan i-ayos namin sa Ateneo. Kung maka-silat tayo ng isang game, tataas yung scores natin somehow, maka-third man lang malay mo,” he said. “I’m just saying hindi pa tapos. We’re happy but we still have to work.”
If there’s one thing working in the Lady Maroons’ favors, however, it’s the fact they have beaten the Lady Eagles once this season.
Yee says it’s not a major factor.
“It’s them not playing their game. It’s nothing like us being exceptional or what,” he said. “We just want yung bata hindi na pressured, hindi na takot.”
Facing the 3-peat-seeking squad definitely makes UP underdogs and it is exactly what Yee wants.
“Masarap na maglaro na wala lang iniintindi,” he stressed while noting the ingredients that brought the Lady Maroons back into the Final Four for the first time in more than a decade.
“Kahit sinong coach, basta may proper support, proper recruitment, kaya kahit sino,” he explained. “It’s all about material.” — By Arylle Magtalas