MANILA, Philippines — National University coach Jeff Napa lamented his team’s inability to finish strong after faltering in the fourth quarter against University of the Philippines on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I think we only played for 30 minutes. We failed to deliver in the last four minutes. That’s what dictated the game. I told them this game is for 40 minutes Then, our turnovers killed us during the last stretch,” said Napa after a 75-63 loss to the Fighting Maroons.
The Bulldogs led 63-62 in the fourth quarter but went scoreless in the last four minutes of the game where they also turned the ball over four times as the Fighting Maroons ended the match with a 13-0 run behind the clutch baskets of Carl Tamayo and Cyril Gonzales.
NU committed a total of 26 miscues that led to 19 turnover points to UP and also shot poorly from deep with a 3-of-23 shooting clip to suffer back-to-back losses for a 5-3 record.
Still, Napa said he will “take full responsibility” for the undesired result and added his players were able to rise to his challenge despite the loss.
“During our huddle at the dugout earlier, I told them that I will step backward so they will step forward. That was my challenge for them in order to live up to the expectations of being a big-time player. Whatever your decision, make sure you should be accountable and have confidence. Because I want them to become big-time players and step out of my shadow, which they did.”
“Although in the last four minutes, we’re still lacking maturity. They showed their desire and effort to win. But of course, they are still young and commit bad decisions. It’s my fault. I need to guide them properly. At least when it comes to these bigtime games, they showed that they are ready to step up,” he added.
Napa wants his Bulldogs to take this painful loss in stride with another big game coming up on Wednesday against the Ateneo Blue Eagles, who gave them a 77-60 beatdown in the first round last October 5.
“We have to go through this adversity for us to become successful,” Napa said. “I told them they are already a different team compared to the first time we faced Ateneo. Coming to Wednesday, it’s a different story. They need to face it as a group. We’re 16-man strong. We have to be on the same page.”
“We fell short today, for 30 minutes, we lacked four minutes. I told them next game, make sure to be there for 40 minutes or 45 minutes,” he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.