MANILA, Philippines—Jose Rizal University has been on a downward spiral since returning from a long layoff due to health and safety protocols.
The Heavy Bombers have lost three in a row after getting manhandled by the Mapua Cardinals on Wednesday.
The recent slump now has JRU outside the Final Four picture in fifth place with a 5-5 record. Coach Louie Gonzalez thinks the issue has been his wards’ inability to focus.
“For me, my concern is getting my players’ focus back. I still can’t feel that my team is really back. This is not the same JRU team. It’s not,” said Gonzalez in Filipino after a 74-49 blowout loss to Mapua.
“These are the things that we’re still trying to cope with because what happened to us was no joke especially the anxiety, the worries. The team did not get [COVID-19] all at once, the players got it one by one so every time we were hoping to get back on the court, there will be one or two players testing positive,” he added.
The timing also couldn’t be any worse with the Heavy Bombers emerging as a surprise contender at 5-2 when they were forced to sit out the next three weeks. Two of their first five wins came at the expense of top teams Lyceum and San Beda.
Gonzalez bared that 11 of his 18 players tested positive.
Fortunately for the Bombers, they are just two and a half games behind the Pirates for the last playoff spot.
“This is a young team and sometimes, it takes time for them to adjust after what they went through. I hope we can get our old self back,” Gonzalez said.
JRU hopes to rediscover its form against also-ran Emilio Aguinaldo College on Friday.
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