Rookie coach takes blame for Growling Tigers’ horrible season

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GROWLING Tigers head coach Bong dela Cruz broke down in tears
inside the locker room moments after losing another heartbreaker to De La Salle
University
, 60-67, at the Mall of Asia Arena last Sept. 6.

Dela Cruz took the blame after the Tigers, a strong title contenders
heading into the new season, missed the Final Four despite having a strong
lineup and two finals appearances.

Ako dapat i-blame, ako lahat ang sasagot ng maling nangyari this
year
,” Dela Cruz told the Varsitarian after the Tigers absorbed their
seventh loss in 12 games.

The rookie coach felt woeful that he wasn’t able to continue the
“winning tradition” of UST which will miss the playoffs for the
first time since Season 73. The Tigers have five wins against seven
losses.

“Responsibility ko na magkaroon ng winning tradition ang UST noong
kinuha ko kay
coach Pido [Jarencio] ang team. Ngayon na out sa Final Four,
siyempre napakasakit sa akin, sa community at napakasakit sa mga players,”
he said.

Despite the defeat, Dela Cruz assured the Thomasian community that his
Growling Tigers would continue to fight until the end, even if their
chances are already out of reach.

Hindi kami dapat magpabaya. Kailangan pa rin namin manalo para
maipakita namin ang
pride ng Tomasino na hindi kami bibigay basta-basta
hanggang sa dulo
,” he said.

Guard Ed Daquioag displayed the kind of heart and tenacity the Growling
Tigers are known for after posting his best game of the season.

After suffering a sprained ankle
two games back and sustaining a mild concussion midway through the second
quarter, Daquioag came back in the second half and posted a team-high 19
points as he tried to will the Tigers to victory. UST missed the services of Kevin
Ferrer and Louie Vigil due to injury and suspension, respectively. Delfin Ray M. Dioquino

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