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UAAP: Inspired by the ’93 UST team, young Tigers show promise

Head coach Bal David and the UST Growling Tigers during their game against the Adamson Falcons in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Basketball Tournament. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

MANILA, Philippines – UST’s new coach Bal David wore a grumpy child’s smile when asked about his allegations of wearing an almost exact copy of his 1993 Growling Tigers uniform.

That’s understandable. After all, he was part of the capable squad that blew up the competition and went on to win the men’s basketball tournament—one of only four schools to achieve such a feat.

And then it hit him: There’s also the immense pressure that comes with context, especially considering the crop of players that he has.

“I was cheated,” he told reporters in Filipino, laughing. “He’s ’14-0.’ And I know this team is full of cheaters.”

For their part, this current edition of the Growling Tigers looked worthy on Saturday afternoon, starting their season 85 campaign with a resounding 69-60 win over host Adamson at the Mall of Asia Arena in Paise City.

David said the great UST run was farthest from his mind when he was telling his wards to “just have fun” against Adamson.

“It’s hard to say we’ll win every game, isn’t it?” he said.

What David did was just to echo the lessons he took from his college mentor, the late Eric Del Rosario.

“If he gave you minutes, you have to play your heart out. One minute, 30 seconds? give it your all. And that’s what I keep telling them: Give it all to the ground. That is it,” he said.

Nick Cabanero was undoubtedly a picture of that spell, hitting 33 points to become the first UST player to break 30 points since Marvin Lee in 2018. Cebu’s sophistication also added four aides, two rebellions and one evasion to its name. ,

“You have to give the kids the freedom to play. But at the same time they should also play as brothers. That’s what I learned from coach Eric. One of the many lessons I learned from him, said David.

A star both at the college level and in the pros, David is also well aware that Sunday’s win is just one of many more UST hopes to snag the season as well.

And maybe, just maybe, this iteration of Growling Tigers can match that feat. Who knows?

“That 14-0? It’s just an inspiration,” he said. “For now.”

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