UAAP Finals: UP, coach Goldwin brace for ‘peaking’ La Salle

UP coach Goldwin Monteverde.–MARLO CUETO/

UP coach Goldwin Monteverde.–MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines—University of the Philippines Coach Goldwin Monteverde arrived at Mall of Asia Arena with a sense of urgency for Game 1 of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.

At 4 pm, JD Cagulangan, Malick Diouf and Francis Lopez were already at the court minutes before Monteverde arrived at 4:23 but the coach didn’t go straight to his Fighting Maroons.

Instead, he took a few seconds to look at the players on the other side of the court; the Green Archers.

“Will [this take] long?” responded Monteverde to this reporter when he was inquired for a few words before the clash of the titans, his focus unwavering.

But his attention wasn’t really directed to just one player. His gaze wasn’t just on Mark Nonoy, who’s been on a tear in the tail-end of the elimination round. It wasn’t for  Mike Philips, who came back from an ankle injury without any letup.

Heck, it wasn’t even for Kevin Quiambao, who is set to be the league’s MVP.

The coach’s focused stare was directed to every single one of the La Salle players warming up, like a hyena scouting his next meal.

It didn’t take long for Monteverde to talk timidly about the upcoming clash between UP and La Salle.

“Every Finals game is really tough. Especially now, with this La Salle team. I feel that they’re at their peak so it’s really going to be a big challenge for us,” he said in an interview with Inquirer Sports.

La Salle coach Topex Robinson.

La Salle coach Topex Robinson. –MARLO CUETO/

Despite his voice at a low volume, you’d know his soft demeanor is just a mask for his fierce competitiveness inside the court.

And now he’ll have to unleash that same fire again with long-time tactician Topex Robinson on the other end of the impending chess match.

The Fighting Maroons have a well-balanced squad. That’s no secret. Yet, at the end of the elimination round, La Salle snagged one win over the other, thanks in big part to the MVP.

But if you know how a genius works, you’d know the old saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

“It’s [plan against KQ] going to be the same. We’re just going to face it all later when it comes our way,” Monteverde said.

After a very few seconds, Monteverde went on to the locker room to plan the Diliman camp’s next attack.

After all, the first one to blink will be caught in a twice-to-win disadvantage. Monteverde isn’t ready to take that predicament, the same predicament that Ateneo was in before winning the whole thing at their expense last season.

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La Salle and UP’s best-of-three series tips off at 6 pm tonight in Pasay.


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