|Haydee Ong hopes that the Thomasian Gallery sprung back to life after her Tigresses silently resuscitate the ailing basketball program of UST.|
By Kevin Estrada
QUEZON CITY -- Haydee Ong was optimistic for UST despite her team ended the preliminaries of the UAAP women's basketball tournament the bad way when they were speaking to Dugout Philippines Wednesday afternoon at the Big Dome.
The 21-point loss to NU gifted UE the second seed near the end of the regular season and the former Perlas mentor at first was dissatisfied on ending the round-robin phase with back-to-back defeats and was asked when it sounded an alarm for them as they return to the postseason for the first time since 2014.
"No naman. Our goal naman at the start of the season is to get into the final four. And we did," Ong said, noting that they lost their chance to go second when they lost to FEU on their penultimate game of the season.
Instead, the Tigresses ended the regular season at third place with a 10-4 record.
But the most recent losses will be a stepping stone once they will play the Lady Tamaraws once again at the first stage of the postseason on November 19.
"It's a long way. It's a long work, sabi ko sa girls, you have to treat it one game at a time," she added.
However, she was beaming with pride on their biggest performance the Tigresses had in just her second season in charge, in which she recorded a four-game turnaround from last season and became the second hottest team in the tournament by winning eight straight times at the course of the season.
"Of course naman. We do it sa mga Thomasians. We hope starting sa playoffs ng Final Four, we can do better and get some more para makapasok sa Finals," Ong said afterwards, who made her UST debut at the same year as the ill-fated Boy Sablan on the men's side.
As she silently resurrected the basketball program that was long declared dead when Sablan was just a loss away from becoming the worst team ever in the school's history, Ong hopes that their performance this year will make the Thomasians show up at last after empty seats dominate every loss of the growl-less Tigers.
"We would like to see physical appearance with them starting next week. So we hope that mag-clamor kami sa school to cheer and support the women's team," she said, knowing that they need the Thomasians more than ever as they prepare for their return to the postseason.