So the Blue Eagles took the first game of the UAAP finals last Thursday. Below are Blue Eagles coach Norman Black's and Red Warrior's coach Lawrence Chongson's thoughts on Game 1 and the adjustments they'd take for Game 2. [firstpara]
ATENEO COACH NORMAN BLACK ON THE BLUE EAGLES' GAME 1 NEAR-MELTDOWN, "ONDOY" DISTRACTIONS AND UE MARKED MAN PAUL LEE
I really encouraged the players at halftime, instead of berating them [in Game 1 of the best-of-tree Finals won by the Eagles 78-71]. UE went into a zone defense in the second quarter. And we got a lot of good looks in that quarter, we just couldn't knock them down. They were able to get back in the basketball game. I was just telling the players "to have confidence in your shots. In the second half, you're going to get those same shots, just have more confidence in knocking them down." At halftime, I just stayed positive.
Blowing the Lead
Obviously, we blew a [17-point] lead, so we'll try to figure out why that happened and try to correct whatever went wrong in the first half. That will be the focus of my attention in the next 24 hours.
We just tried to continue to do the things that we do well. We wanted to get our run. We didn't control the rebound in the first half, so we rebounded better in the second half. We just wanted to get the ball down to Rabeh (Al-Hussaini), we wanted to shoot well.
Big-time shooting display that Jai Reyes put on. Those were cluth three-pointers he was able to hit for us. Basically, he really broke their zone open. Sometimes, it just takes one guy to get it done. And that gave us a better chance to get back in the game.
Eric (Salamat) will be okay. It's the story of our team. Rabeh struggled sometimes, other guys picked up the slack. Ryan (Buenafe) stepped up at the defensive end. If you look at our team, it's really good because it makes it more difficult to defend. We never know who's going to be the guy. Lately, it's been Jai and Rabeh. One thing you can expect is Eric Salamat will bounce back on Sunday.
Props to UE
It's hard to play UE mainly because they are a rhythm team. In fairness to their coach [Lawrence Chongson], he gives his players a lot of confidence. Even if some of their shots are questionable, they have the green light to take those shots that's why they have so much confidence. It's hard to put them down because they can come back at you with those three-pointers at any time during the game. We just have to continue to play defense.
The Lee Problem
[Paul Lee] is going to be a big headache for us on Sunday. Their backs are against the wall now even more, so he'll come out firing. We just have to continue to defend him. We're not going to stop Paul Lee, we'll just try to control him.
WORDS: JASMINE PAYO
PHOTOS: RYAN ONG
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