Life as it happens. Time as it passes.

NOT THE SAME, BUT STILL THE SAME: UP Bows to UST

Not the same, but still the same.

There are many things that can be said about the 67-59 loss of the UP Fighting Maroons to the UST Growling Tigers yesterday afternoon at the MOA Arena.

For sure, it can be said that the Maroons showed the “fighting” spirit that they carried in their name. They were able to capture the lead in the game once, 27-25, after trailing by as many as 11 in the third quarter.

Still, they lost.

Not only did they show they can take the lead at any point of the game coming from a deficit, but they showed that many times. They tied the game at 37 all in the third, and closed to within three points going into the fourth quarter. Two minutes left in the ballgame, UP had threatened within three, 57-54.

Still, they lost.

This was a breakout game for the up and coming stars of the UP. Diego “Legend” Dario, the sophomore Batang Gilas guard, frontlined the Maroons squad with 15 points, while fellow RP Youth teammate Paul Desiderio had 12 markers. The game showcased the arsenal of these 2nd year playmakers that will surely be integral pieces for UP’s road to redemption in the years to come.

Still, they lost.

Coach Rensy Bajar and his coaching staff showed that they can adjust to any type of play that the opponent can run. They were quick to know which players to field in whenever the other team made necessary changes. Looking at how UP answered UST’s rallies proved that the Maroons are now playing smarter basketball than before.

Still, they lost.

Down by just two points ending the third quarter 42-40, the Maroons soon felt the full display of Ed Daquioag’s weapons, who led all scorers with 26 points. But instead of cowering and whimpering away from the battle, the Maroons went toe to toe with the King Tiger. The Tigers, despite the offensive frenzy of Daquioag and Kevin Ferrer, could not shrug off the Maroons’ pesky defense, which forced turnovers, on which UP capitalized and got good points to slowly shave off UST’s lead to bring the game to a close duel.

Still, they lost.

Comparing the way the UP Fighting Maroons lost to the UST Growling Tigers last Saturday to they way they would usually bow out of a game, one cannot help but notice a big and significant improvement in the way the Maroons fought. The defense has been key to them preventing their opponents from goring them up to bits by big leads, as well as dousing any hot fire of runs that their foes wage. Despite the sterling performances of their opponents’ key offensive stars, they were able to limit others from adding more points, such as Karim Abdul and Louie Vigil. If in the past the Maroons could not even recover from a 10-point lead by their opponent all throughout the game, this time they showed that they can give their enemies a run for their money. UP has shown that now they can answer back every volley of shot by their enemies, stand their ground on defense, and keep the game close until the dying seconds, unlike in the past seasons when everyone can predict the ending of their games as a foregone conclusion.

Yes, the way the Maroons lost this time around is not the same as before.

Still, they lost.

And no matter what explanations we offer, a loss is still a loss.

The challenge is to move on, regroup, recover, and continue fighting. And the UP Fighting Maroons will have plenty of room to adjust whatever they need to get that third win. They have a couple of days in their hands to prepare themselves for the fray, scout their next target, get their minds into the game and focus on the task at hand. And the last thing they should do is to feel “ok” about the loss.

Because a loss is a loss no matter how good the game was played, just as a win is a win no matter how sloppy it was earned.

Not the same. But still the same.

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