With UAAP’s 73rd basketball tournament in the verge of coming to an end and only four remaining teams are battling for the right to be held this season’s Seniors Basketball champion. The UE Red Warriors’ campaign this season is nothing but a summary of remorse and a question of what if.
After last year’s of almost ending the more than 2 decades of title drought, we again add this season in the page of the Red Warriors’ chapter of dark ages, because for the 1st time since 2001 the team fell short to just even enter in the Final Four elites.
Many were expecting that the Red Warriors will excel after adding a hard semi-finals and championship experiences to their credentials and many were also expecting that they’ll gonna have a tough time because of losing their core veteran line-up. And
after the cloud of war had settle, the antagonists prevail for the Red Warriors only manage to finish the elimination with 6 wins and 8 losses.
Yes, our season is a story of too late of a hero. When the team only able to get a single win in the 1st round of elimination and begin a trailing game in the 2nd round and leave its fate on other teams misery.
Honestly, I also didn’t expect the Red Warriors performance in the 1st round. What went wrong? Is the main question. Many fans and faithfuls said that, the team’s line-up were not suited to Paul Lee’s style of playing; some said that, it was Paul Lee’s injury in the pre-season and the team has to adjust with his situation; some said that, it was James Martinez problem of still getting to his usual self after a year of absent due to an ACL injury and to add an extra responsibility of leading the team; other said that, it was their heavy uniform and was force to completely change it.
If you’ll ask me, what went wrong after what I have observed during the late part of pre-season and when they went in the tournament proper. It was the mismanagement of Coach Lawrence Chongson over his boys. And because of this his coaching staff abandoned their position as a sign of disgust maybe for Coach Chongson’s approach to the players. The team really suffers the internal problem and misunderstanding between the head coach and his assistants. That’s why Coach Chongson put unexperience to coaching his former players. Eventually, Coach Chongson was accountable to what happened in some point still need the service of his assistants and only Assistant Coach Rene Baena returns back. If you’ll notice before he come back to his position, all games of the Red Warriors were completely miserable to watch, but upon his return, the team’s games went into different level and begun knocking out league leaders. But it was too late, the losses has already piled up that are hard to catch the upper teams.
In the end, the bald coach prove his worth more than the long-hair coach. Coach Chongson may be a good motivator, but Assistant Coach Baena is a good tactician. In the middle of the 2nd round when Coach Chongson saw the team’s very slim chance to get into the Final Four, he said that he will vacated the head coach position after the tournament is over and leave it to the UE management whether he will be given an extension to his contract or not. Obviously, he accepted full responsibility to what have had happened. And, if ever will there be a change in the head coach position, I really do hope that the very underrated Assistant Coach Rene Baena will retain to his post and can even be promoted to coach in the juniors division.