University of the East veterans Paul Lee (6-foot guard), Elmer Espiritu (6-foot-3 power forward), Pari Llagas (6-foot-4 center) and Val Acuna (6-foot-3 small forward) stress how the underdog tag won't stop the Red Warriors from roughing it up against the favored Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP championship series. [firstpara]
BREAKING THE CURSE
Paul Lee: Lahat ng paghihirap namin, nagbunga na ngayon. We broke the curse. People said we had the Final Four jinx. Every time we reach the Final Four, we choke, bumibitaw na, laging natatalo. So now that we're in the Finals, we're still not contented.
Pari Llagas: Hindi pa time na magsaya.
BEING THE UNDERDOGS
Paul Lee: Obviously, we're the underdogs. Sa baba kami galing in the first round. But in the second round, that's when we started peaking. Doon din nagsimula mabuo ang kumpyansa namin. Against Ateneo, we'll just do our best. [In my match up against Eric Salamat], I think pareho lang kami. Walang lamang. We were high school teammates [in San Sebastian] together with [Ryan] Buenafe. We won championships together. Pero gagawin ko ang lahat para ma-stop sila.
Elmer Espiritu: Lumalabas ang heart ng team. Lahat gusto talaga manalo.
Lee: [During our Finals series against La Salle] in 2007, we really had a system. Now, it's freewheeling. Pinapabayaan kami ni coach kung ano gusto naming play. Gawin lang namin magagawa namin, kung libre, tira na. Before, we really had to follow the system. We relied heavily on our system. But I think I like our system now, kasi lumalabas laro ko. Pinapabayaan ako ni coach. Sinasabi niya sa akin kung saan ka, doon din kami.
INTERVIEW BY JASMINE PAYO