Sablan, Tigers ready to go for broke

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University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers head coach Boy Sablan knew well the consequences if his wards lose on Sunday against University of the East (UE)—they will finish the Season 80 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament winless. The once formidable Growling Tigers are now wallowing in shame with a 0-13 win-loss record.

“It’s the call of the management, whether they replace me or not, and it’s going to be fine [with me]because I’m always doing my best as a coach although we fell short in most games,” Sablan, 54, told The Manila Times. “I will accept whatever is their decision.”

Before Season 80, Sablan was asked if the Growling Tigers can surpass their 3-11 win-loss standing in Season 79.

UST’s Jordan Sta. Ana (No.7) defends against La Salle’s Leonard Santillan during a UAAP game at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. PHOTO BY ROGER RAÑADA

He said unlike last season, UST has more time to prepare and the pre-season tournaments they’ve joined, he thought, put them in a good position for a better showing this year.

“Every year, all coaches are renewable. If they renew me, thank you. I will do my best to improve the team. If not, thank you for the two years,” added Sablan, a former assistant coach of Blackwater in the PBA.

Sablan is no longer looking at those 13 losses. He felt that the experience his players gained this year could be enough to put the Growling Tigers back in the limelight next season.

And he’ll be happy if he will be given a chance to prove his critics wrong.

“Whoever the coach next season, I believe it is going to be a different UST team. We already have a program in place and all we have to do is sustain that. We also have 6’9 and 6’6 players from Team B.”

The beleaguered UST coach mentioned some numbers to show that his squad can compete against the Final Four teams.

The Growling Tigers are third in rebounds (49 per game), fast break points (13.4) and second chance points (13.8). But UST topped the errors category with almost 25 turns per contest.

“We improved in rebounding and fast break points this season but sadly it wasn’t enough to give us a single win. It is the lack of maturity that’s why we are No. 1 in turnovers,” he said.

Sablan added that the exit of key players Ed Daquioag, Jamil Sheriff and Louie Vigil affected the overall effectiveness of the team. Marvin Lee and Jeepy Faundo are the only veterans left to lead the Growling Tigers this season.

“Jeepy Faundo in fact spent most of the time sitting on the bench in his early years. Same with some of my veterans. And I have eight rookies in my teams,” he said.

In the Final Four era, two schools ended their campaign with 0-14.

Adamson University was winless in the 2000 and 2001 seasons, both under head coach Luigi Trillo.

University of the Philippines experienced the same fate three times in 2007 (under Joe Lipa), 2010 (Aboy Castro and Boyet Fernandez) and 2013 (Ricky Dandan and Rey Madrid).

Sablan and the Growling Tigers are hell bent not to be included in that infamous list. They are plunging into action against the Red Warriors like it’s a championship match.

“Our mindset heading to Araneta (Coliseum) is to win. I don’t want to leave UST without a single win. For the entire UST community, we need to win,” said Faundo.

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