EDITOR’S NOTE: Lorie has written for FTS Spotlight before. She chronicled the history of her fandom with Coach Yeng Guiao and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. She’s very passionate about her favorite teams and it’s evident with the way she writes. This time around she writes about the contrast of two UST teams in opposite ends of the spectrum. She wrote this when the Season 80 UST Growling Tigers were 0-6. Things haven’t changed much since then as UST is still winless this season.
The Zero-Six Casette Tape
Written by Lorie Abing
Side A: ‘06 in Retrospect
Coming off the final timeout after Dylan Ababou’s split charities that gave UST a one-point advantage, Ateneo was left with 12.5 seconds to work with. The ensuing play saw JC Intal from the top of the key drive past Dylan Ababou for what could have been the game-winning shot. Instead, as he went after his miss, Japs Cuan forced a jumpball, with the possession arrow pointing to UST with 4.3 seconds left. Immediately after the inbound, Jun Cortez was fouled, making one of his two free throws to add another point to the UST lead. While the ball was still in the air after the Jai Reyes desperation shot from the halfcourt, the yellow gallery was already in a frenzy. What a fitting way to cap off a Cinderella season.
“…and UST has won the 69th season UAAP Title!”
UST started off the season at 2-4, good for a lower seed at the end of the first round. A then-rookie head coach, and a team riddled with early tragedy and injuries, the Growling Tigers looked anything but a team who was going to make it to the Finals, much less the Final Four. But there they were, on the grandest stage of collegiate sports, grinding it out against the team expected to win it all – the Blue Eagles.
While the UST and ADMU was battling it out in Araneta, I was in my own battle in UST’s Beato Angelico building, trying to pass the USTET.
I managed to catch the last few minutes of overtime thanks to the television in my cousin’s dormitory room. Every time the Tigers took ball possession, hauled a rebound, or scored a basket, everyone in their floor cheered. And when it was the Eagles who had the ball, soared for a rebound, or attempted a shot, screams were all I heard. It went back and forth and I don’t know if it was the environment I was in, or the mind conditioning from walking around the university, or the USTET, but I found myself cheering, clapping, and praying for the guys in yellow.
The moment the game clock read 0.0, the clearest glow and the loudest sounds were not from the television but the ecstatic faces of my cousins and the screams of Thomasians walls and walls apart. A few people started going out of their rooms and soon the hallway became a place of jubilation. I celebrated with people I didn’t know, celebrated the victory of a team I had just been “introduced” to. I basked in the joy of the people around me, as if I was already a part of this community. It was overwhelming, but that was putting it mildly. There was not a more perfect word to describe that moment, and to describe the feeling whenever I go back to that memory: euphoria.
Side B: 0-6, Eleven Years Later
Six games into the season and the Growling Tigers find themselves having to tackle the task of barging into the win column. 0-6 marks the worst start of the squad since the Final Four era began where UST has accumulated 14 Playoffs and 8 Finals Appearances over the years.
The Growling Tigers opened their Season 80 campaign falling to the Fighting Maroons with a heartbreaking three from Paul Desiderio, having only 1.4 seconds left in the game. Marvin Lee finished the game with 20 points in his season debut while Steve Akomo had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Also in double figures were shifty guard Jordan Sta. Ana with 11 points and Jeepy Faundo with 12 boards. Despite the loss, the game showed promise for a team seeking redemption after a rather disappointing Season 79.
The next four games saw the Tigers settle into a pattern of keeping it close for the first three quarters, going as far as giving their opponents a scare in the final frame, only to fall short in the waning minutes.
In their second game against Adamson, despite committing 41 turnovers, they managed to come as close to five before AdU pulled away for the victory.
Down as much as 22 points against league-leader Ateneo, UST clawed their way back to pull within a single point. Marvin Lee and Jordan Sta. Ana combined for 43 points but it was during the final stretch, with turnovers and missed free throws, that the victory slipped out of the Tigers’ outstretched hands.
A 29-point loss, courtesy of the defending champions DLSU, is already demoralizing. And a 0-6 win-loss record is more than enough to make any supporter cringe. But as cliché as it sounds, it is in these dark times that a team is truly tested; where character is developed and resilience is reinforced.
Anybody could look at 0-6 and assume the worst about a team. But make no mistake, the Growling Tigers are no pushovers regardless of the record. They are far from a perfect team, far from what UST fans are used to. But they are learning and fighting. Our part is to understand, to give them the time, and continue supporting them.
0-6 doesn’t quantify the close calls, the hustle for loose balls, the pain of playing through cramps. It can’t quantify grit, the potential, and most of all, the embodiment of the 3 P’s – born eleven years ago in a season where nobody saw the Tigers coming.
Puso. Pride. Palaban. The defining principles that keep every Growling Tiger going, that every supporter hold on to.
It was there in ‘06 and it is still here, even in 0-6.