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Maroons will be ready for a big fight even without Lucero in Game 3


Zavier Lucero fell late in UP's UAAP Finals Game 2 loss.  –UAAP PHOTO

Zavier Lucero fell late in UP’s UAAP Finals Game 2 loss. –UAAP PHOTO

Kept at the lowest level of performance under the stellar Goldwyn Monteverde and facing the prospect of playing the decisive match to claim the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball crown without the energetic Zavier Lucero, University of the Philippines (UP ) won’t have a losing streak against Ateneo on Monday.

“We don’t think about his injury anymore,” Bo Perasol, a former coach and now head of UP basketball operations, told the Inquirer by phone as the team awaited the results of their MRIs. from Lucero’s left knee. “The team was expecting the worst.”

Lucero, who sparked a 72-66 win in Game 1, injured his left knee during a non-contact play while driving to the basket early in the fourth round after a 66-56 loss on Wednesday. And watching the 6-foot-7 striker try—and fail—to walk on his own didn’t give Perasol much hope.

“No pressure from [UP] community [for him to play], Perasol said. “We all saw how painful it was for him to walk.

“We are preparing as if he is not going to play [Game 3]Perasol said.

New favorite?

Entering this series as slightly underdogs, the Eagles seemed to have turned the game around with a stellar defensive performance in Game 2 as the Maroons’ total score is currently the lowest of the dynasty. Great Monteverde.

Ateneo’s coach, Tab Baldwin, said in an interview with CNN Philippines that Game 2 was “the best game we’ve played all year” and that “if we want to win, we need to win.” have the same defensive strength [in Game 3].”

Ange Kouame, whose short jab snuffed out by Lucero in the waning seconds sealed Game 1 victory for UP, was a force to be reckoned with on Tuesday, scoring 19 points with 11 rebounds along with three steals and saves three times for the Eagle of Revenge.

Monteverde and the rest of his coaching staff still don’t know the extent of Lucero’s injury as of this writing, and if he can’t get dressed, Kouame will have more room to function inside.

“Hopefully it’s not that bad,” Monteverde said.

Perasol, who has also coached in the Philippine Basketball Association and has seen players suffer injuries throughout his life, believes Lucero will be the one to make the call to success in the end.

“Only he can say whether he can play,” Perasol said. “If we asked the doctor, they would definitely say he can’t play, considering how he got off the field.”

In tears as he sat on the bench, Lucero said he heard his knees crack during that game.

However, Perasol knows that the motivation to play for a UAAP title is still there for Lucero and the rest of the Maroons.

And considering that Lucero is in his final season, the slick forward certainly wants to end his college career on top. Or at least stand alone, to give the Maroons their much-respected repeat.


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