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Altamirano rues free throw misses, poor defense behind Game 1 loss

By Ivan Saldajeno

Coach Eric Altamirano cited missed free throws and poor defense as the reasons behind NU's 70-75 loss to FEU in Game 1 of the UAAP men's basketball finals.

He first mentioned about the horrendous 15-of-31 clip of the Bulldogs from the charity stripe.

"That did it for us in the game--the free throws. We missed 16 free throws. We have to address that," Altamirano said.

He also thought that how the Bulldogs fared from the line was uncharacteristic of what he sees during practice.

"Normally, when I see them shoot their free throws, very focused sila, very relaxed. They're not spending a lot of energy. I felt they were doing that. Even si Gelo [Alolino], normally very steady yun," Coach Eric continued.

Alolino only made three of seven free throws.

Alolino, who made crucial free throws in NU's Final Four encounter with Ateneo, missed one in the dying moments of Game 1 that could have inched the team closer.

Altamirano also said that the 75 points the Bulldogs conceded against the Tamaraws was too much.

"By allowing them to score 75, that means we did not do well in defense," he said.

However, he also said that the excitement they have entering the Finals might have also led to the loss.

"I think more of that, yung mental fatigue.... Siguro excited sa Finals," Coach Eric thought.

He later added, "Andoon yung excitement, excitement for the school, excitement for the players."

Prior to this season, NU never made the UAAP Finals for 44 years and never won the title since 1954.

For Altamirano's part, this is his first Finals appearance as a coach after leading the San Mig Coffee Mixers, then the Purefoods Corned Beef Cowboys, to two PBA Finals appearances in 1997, winning the Philippine Cup, the first of the two.

Coach Eric, however, lauded the Tamaraws for going all-out in Game 1.

"I felt FEU wanted it more than us," he said.

He vowed that the Bulldogs will bounce back strongly on Wednesday for Game 2.

"We lost the battle but not the war. They have to beat us twice.... Di [namin] ibibigay yung laban," he said.
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