‘Lucky charm’ NU team manager hails Sports Vision for promoting the cause of UAAP high school volleyball
The National University high school volleyball squad, said to be even stronger than last season’s, is fit and ready to complete a ‘three-peat’ in the upcoming UAAP volleyball tournament. Team manager Alex Ong (fourth from left, standing, in this file photo taken after the NU management feted the team following their second straight UAAP title triumph) predicts a more exciting competition this season as competing squads get access to a playing venue and conditions only reserved for their senior counterparts before. With the team are NU officials Hans Sy (third from right), chairman of the board; Teddy Ocampo, president; Nilo Ocampo, board director; and head coach Edgar Barroga and assistant coach Rued Perales.
Engr. Alexander Romulo R. Ong, no doubt about it, is the lucky charm of the National University Bullpups, the reigning back-to-back champions of UAAP high school volleyball.
Assistant coach Ruel Perales said the Bullpups used to be the league’s perennial cellar dwellers, but when the owner of Ayin Contructor & Trading Corp., provider of electrical and communications services, stepped in as team manager the year SM took ownership of NU, the boys at once rocketed to the Top 2 four times, third place once, and, finally, to the top of the heap in the last two UAAP seasons.
The team is even more bullish about its title chances this coming season, but Engr. Ong said his boys are surely up against a much more inspired competition this time with the welcome entry of Sports Vision as partner of UAAP sub-host NU in the staging of the league’s secondary volleyball tourney.
“Parents of children competing in UAAP high school volleyball are overjoyed, to say the least, to see them playing now on rubber-surfaced court in an air-conditioned venue,” said the team manager. “The new playing conditions made possible by Sports Vision invite a much tougher competition since there are no more reasons for participants to hold back; the court now covered by Taraflex drastically lessens the risks of injuries.”
Former University of Santo Tomas coach Odjie Mamon and ace Lady Bulldog Jaja Santiago concurred with Engr. Ong’s observation.
“Repeated landings on a hard court,” said Mamon, “have great impact on the player’s knees, but it is not so anymore when they play on a rubber-surfaced one. Somehow, the rubber coating absorbs the impact of the landings.”
Six-foot-five Santiago, who used to play for NU in high school, admitted she is still very careful when executing a jump on a Taraflex-covered court. “How much more careful I was then when I played on courts made of concrete or hard wood without rubber surface. I am very happy that the UAAP high school players are now competing in a venue with the same playing conditions made available to us, their senior teams.”
Explaining the sudden transformation of his boys from doormats to silver medalists to champions, the NU assistant coach gave credit to Engr. Ong’s full support for the team and involvement in NU’s heavy recruitment of promising talents from the countryside. The team manager, according to Perales, has set up a program of incentives designed to inspire the boys to always give their best during a game and is even taking care of the boys’ personal needs.
Including the 14 making up the UAAP roster, the NU stable of athletes includes 13 more waiting in the wings who are training as hard as the regulars, all ready to perform once given the opportunity.
The places of origin of those who made the Bullpups’ UAAP lineup give away how far and wide the NU scouts are travelling to discover talents.
Team captain Billie Anima, 17, six-foot-three, hails from Kidapawan City. Bryan Dumaran, 17, is from Gen. Santos. Pol Gringo Salvador, 17, and Diogenes Poquita, 16, are both from Cebu City.
Jhone Togas, 17, six-foot-two, Lorence Cruz, 17, and Mac Arvin Bandola were discovered from Pangasinan, and the trio of Jomar Ocampo, 16, Angel Paul Serrano, 17, and Mark Andrei Manalo, 16, are all from Pampanga.
Completing the team are Michael John Fortuna, 16, of Laguna, John Raphael Sumalinog, 17, of Paranaque City, Gibson Balanong, 17, of Marikina, and Menard Guerrero, 15, of Quezon City.
Joining the team for the first time are Togas, Ocampo, Salvador, Serrano, Dumaran and Manalo.