By Patrick Leonard Mayo
Finally! The UST Growling Tigers barge into the Final Four (with a little help from their Sampaloc neighbors), and the hopes for a second title in four years are very much alive. But UST's performance thus far, presents two contrasting sides.
One could view their season as an overachieving one, being out of the Final Four radar in the preseason. Some pundits even pegged them to two or three wins this season, max. So we all should be happy and contented with their performance despite entering the semis with a losing record (6-8) and already concede the first game of the semis to the defending champions.
On the other side of the coin, their ticket to the Final Four bus could be viewed as the first step to a repeat of the miracle run in season '69. The Tigers could use their underdog tag to their advantage. Everyone expects the Blue Eagles to dispatch of them on Sunday, easily. But if they could at least surprise the champs with a never-say-die attitude right from the start, they might catch them off-guard and steal Game 1. We all know that anything can happen in a rubber match where all the stats are thrown out of the window.
But it's really up to them. We could all cheer our hearts out next Sunday but if they will play half-hearted, then they should just hand over the win to the Eagles. But if they will play like there is no tomorrow, (which is what will happen if they don't give their alll), if they will play as a team with one goal and at least keep the game close in the end game, an upset win is very likely to happen. They should strike fear in the eyes of the Blue Eagles right from the buzzer and show them that they've got to get past the mighty, mighty Tigers before they talk of back-to-back titles. UST is not far from Ateneo in terms of talent, all they need to do is forge their talent and play solid defense for 40 solid minutes.
Dylan, show everyone that you are the King Tiiger, the league MVP. Khasim, show them that you are indeed a man with aim and precision. Chris, show Nonoy how it is to play rock-solid defense. Jeric F., run the offense with smoothness and steal that ball from the "man of steal", Jeric T., get ready to be fouled hard and complete that "and-1" play. Clark, burn their zone defense with your three-point bombs. To the bench mob, play quality minutes. Contribute in any way possible.
It's all a matter of perspective. Do we want to be contented or do we want to go all the way to the championship?