Posted Feb 16th 2014
Bulldogs all grown up, eye finals berth
By Donjie Carreon Posted Jun 24th 2013
Eric Altamirano, head coach of the National University basketball squad, admits that there were times last season when his team was rattled when the competition ratcheted up the physicality.
Altamirano believes that it will be different this time, and the Bulldogs are now better equipped to handle the grind of the upcoming UAAP season.
“Last year, meron games na na-mama kami… We lacked poise under pressure. But this is our third year together, I expect the team to be more mature (and capable of handling pressure),” the coach told UAAPSports.tv
Altamirano hopes that the maturity and familiarity will help the team makes its second straight Final Four appearance, and lift the team to its first ever Finals. And it also doesn’t hurt that his core includes reigning Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks, who is expected to again do the heavy lifting for NU.
“We’re still looking up to Bobby Ray… Just like the last two years, he’s been stepping up as scoring threat but we need him to lead us in other ways on and off the court… He’s also been trying to add to his game, working as a facilitator so he can include other players in offense and give them confidence,” Altamirano said.
But as much as Parks has proven that he can carry the team with his all-around talent, the results of seasons past also shows he can’t do it by himself.
This season, Altamirano said that NU other veterans must help carry the load and he is particularly looking at guard Gelo Alolino, center Jean Mbe and newcomer Alfred Aroga, to complement the reigning MVP.
The NU coach also expects the additional year to have helped in his backcourt’s development and looks forward to better execution and fewer turnovers, a category NU led last season.
Altamirano added that the NU will again push the pace on offense to generate easy transition baskets, with its 11 points per game last season second best in the league.
On the defensive end, Parks will add perimeter stopper to his other assignments, while Mbe will assume his usual role as rim protector and rebounder.
Altamirano acknowledges that the expectations on the Bulldogs are higher this year, but noted that the road to the finals remains fraught with danger.
“Realistic expectation is get into the finals but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Naglakasan lahat so we have to take it one game at a time. We’re tagged as a team to beat and were honored with that, but that does not translate to wins. We haven’t proven anything. Wala pa kaming UAAP finals appearance or championships, but we hope we can live up to that,” he said.
UAAP Season 76 Lineup:
Alejandro, Rodolfo III
Alolino, Joshua Angelo
De Guzman, Mark Joel
Dong Aroga, Alfred
Javelona, Nico Paolo
Neypes, Kyle Drexler
Parks, Bobby Ray
Porter, William Maurice
Rosari, Jeth Troy
Villamor, Lee Dennice