Coach Eric Altamirano says National University (NU) should be consistent on defense and offense to reclaim the title in the in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
The Bulldogs, who won their first ever championship in 60 years two years ago, will employ a new up tempo game and new defensive schemes to challenge powerhouse teams De La Salle University and defending champion Far Eastern University when the Season 79 unfolds on September 4.
“We have a long preparation and the team is coming together,” Altamirano told The Manila Times in a phone interview on Sunday. “We have to rely more on offense aside from our defense. We need to get more possessions.”
Altamirano also said that NU is a combination of rookie and veteran players. Cameroonian 6’7 Alfred Aroga, the 2014 finals Most Valuable Player, will return this season together with guard JJ Alejandro.
“Our primary goal is to win a championship, every team wanted to be champion and that’s what they aspire,” added Altamirano, 50, who is now in his sixth season as coach. “But we are expecting a collective team effort from our eight rookies and eight other players. But it is tough to make any championship predictions because we don’t know if there will be some injuries. We just have to give our best and show our A game every game. So far, the team is healthy.”
Last year, NU struggled in the early part of the elimination round but was able to plunge into the Final Four stage after finishing the double round elimination with 7-7 win-loss record.
Other notable players for NU are Jess Diputado, Kevin De Castro, Nico Abatayo and Ronnel Lastimosa.
JOSEF T. RAMOS