Defending champions Arellano University (AU) promised it would perform better in the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Football Tournament that begins in January.
“It will be a must for us. As a coach, you always have to be optimistic otherwise your preparation will be useless. We will do our best to be better for the next games,” AU head coach Ravelo Saluria told The Manila Times in Filipino.
The Chiefs finished third after the elimination round with four wins and two losses for a total of 12 points.
They opened their campaign with a 3-0 win against Emilio Aguinaldo College before defeating host University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 3-1, and Mapua Institute of Technology, 3-1.
Arellano also conquered Lyceum of the Philippines University, 2-1, for their fourth straight victory before falling to second seed College of Saint Benilde, 0-4.
In their last elimination round game, leading squad San Beda College routed them 6-0.
“When you look at it, win or lose, we will still be at third place. It is just a matter of just playing the last game and looking forward to our next games in the second round,” Saluria said.
He added that he used all his seven substitutes during the heated affair to give them an experience of playing against a tough opponent before their next games.
“It was all part of the plan because if we can score with our bench players against a strong team, it would be good for the confidence of our team for the next round,” he said.
Looking forward, the veteran coach stressed that fitness will play a crucial role if his wards want to beat their opponents in the second round.
“Well, first of all, when we started the tournament we had a lot of injuries. So, I think we will give them time to recover. And of course, we will be looking to improve our physical fitness,” he added.
Saluria mentioned that they would be preparing for each game in the last stretch of the tournament while looking at their games against San Beda and St. Benilde as crucial matches.
“Both teams (SBC and CSB) are actually tough opponents. If you look at it, everyone will be leveled in the second round and anyone can win. We just have to prepare for every opponent.”
Despite losing to their toughest competitors in the first round, Saluria declared that they would be better in the next meeting.
“Well, I believe my players are ready for the second round. We have the mentality of getting better and bouncing back from big losses.”