NA­TIONAL UNIVER­SITY BULL­DOGS

AF­TER A SUR­PRIS­ING 7-7 WIN-LOSS RECORD AND FIFTH­PLACE FIN­ISH LAST SEA­SON, THE NA­TIONAL UNIVER­SITY BULL­DOGS DIDN’T STAND PAT IN THE OFF-SEA­SON. THEY BROUGHT IN A PROVEN COACH IN ERIC AL­TAMI­RANO, SE­CURED ROOKIE SEN­SA­TION BOBBY RAY PARKS, AND SUR­ROUNDED HIM

Rebound Magazine - - UAAP PREVIEW - by Sid Ven­tura

Three starters from last year – Kokoy Her­mo­sisima, Jewel Pon­fer­rada and Mervin Balo­ran – have al­ready grad­u­ated, and Al­tami­rano will turn to a rookie and two sopho­mores to fill the void. The shoot­ing guard spot is al­ready re­served for Parks, a tal­ented and ath­letic 6’5” wing­man who can ac­tu­ally play both guard spots and even slide over to the three spot if the need arises. Vet­eran Joseph Terso is still the res­i­dent point guard, form­ing an in­ter­est­ing back­court duo with Parks. At the small for­ward spot, sec­ond-year player Glenn Khobuntin should get the nod, while fel­low sopho­more Jeff Jav­il­lonar is set to take over the power for­ward po­si­tion. At cen­ter, last year’s MVP run­ner-up Em­manuel Mbe is out of the coun­try as of this writ­ing, al­though Al­tami­rano said he will be back in

time for the open­ing of classes.

Bench

A few old faces and a lot of new ones will be seen on the NU bench this sea­son. Back for an­other go are shoot­ing guards Ajeet Singh and Jul-Ashri Ig­na­cio and cen­ter Mar­ion Ma­gat. Mak­ing their UAAP de­buts will be sev­eral blue chip re­cruits, in­clud­ing exTiger Cubs for­ward Kyle Neypes and point guard Cedric Labing-isa. A pair of for­wards from Rizal Tech­no­log­i­cal Univer­sity, Rob­bie Celiz and Den­nice Vil­lamor, will beef up the front­line ro­ta­tion. Back­ing up Mbe will be 6’7” Jano Eman, younger brother of PBA pro Samigue, for whom Al­tami­rano has high hopes. An­gelo Alolino will most likely be the team’s third point guard.

With only seven re­turnees, four of whom

are sopho­mores, it’s a rather young but nonethe­less promis­ing ros­ter, with a lot of ver­sa­til­ity thrown in. Sev­eral play­ers can play more than one po­si­tion, giv­ing Al­tami­rano the lux­ury of field­ing in mul­ti­ple com­bi­na­tions.

Coach­ing

Al­tami­rano is fresh off a suc­cess­ful stint as coach of two youth teams that placed fourth and fifth in 2009 and 2010, re­spec­tively. This stint not only boosted his coach­ing ré­sumé, it also pro­vided him with a cru­cial pipe­line to tal­ent: Parks, Labingisa, and Neypes all played for Al­tami­rano on those youth teams.

The for­mer UP Ma­roon brings cham­pi­onship coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence from his time with Pure­foods in the PBA, where he earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a drill­mas­ter who ran de­mand­ing prac­tices, but who also be­came known as a play­ers’ coach. Back­ing him up on the bench will be Joey Guanio, his for­mer UP team­mate, Mon Jose, who coached the Philip­pine en­try to the World Youth Olympics 3-on-3 competition, vet­eran men­tor Vic Ycasiano, holdover Jeff Napa, and new faces Leo Pu­jante and Mar­lon Celiz.

In­tan­gi­bles

Last year, no one ex­pected NU to come within a game of crash­ing the Fi­nal Four. The Bull­dogs had the el­e­ment of sur­prise and most ev­ery­one didn’t take them too se­ri­ously. This year, with the bar set higher and op­pos­ing teams al­ready de­vis­ing ways to slow down Parks, there will be more pres­sure to pro­duce wins. Al­tami­rano is do­ing his best to man­age these ex­pec­ta­tions, say­ing their tar­get is to make the Fi­nal Four in three years, but that won’t stop peo­ple from watch­ing their ev­ery move. The chal­lenge will be to guide this young team and not let the pres­sure get to them, while at the same time pro­duc­ing ac­cept­able re­sults.

Out­look

The new era of NU Bull­dogs bas­ket­ball will kick off this sea­son. Parks is the new face of the bas­ket­ball pro­gram, and from all in­di­ca­tions he should be as good as ad­ver­tised. With Mbe an­chor­ing the post, NU has a nice in­side-out game. The ques­tion is whether it will be enough to give the team its first Fi­nal Four berth since 2001.

No doubt, the Bull­dogs will be field­ing what looks to be their most com­pet­i­tive line-up since the team led by Froilan Baguion and Al­fie Gri­jaldo crashed the Fi­nal Four. And in Al­tami­rano they have per­haps their most ac­com­plished coach in a long time. These are all in­gre­di­ents for suc­cess – in the long run. Teams like Ate­neo, FEU and Adam­son all have the ad­van­tage in terms of ex­pe­ri­ence and depth, so the Bull­dogs will have their work cut out for them in their quest to make it to the post-sea­son. Not im­pos­si­ble, not too far­fetched even, but it’s gonna be tough.

C PF SF SG PG

Em­manuel Mbe

Jeff Jav­il­lonar Glenn Khobuntin Bobby Ray Parks Joseph Terso

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.