NU Bullpups: Goliath as Strong as Ever

Migs Bustos on Mar 07, 2016 12:41 PM
NU Bullpups: Goliath as Strong as Ever
(Photo: Arvin Lim/ABS-CBN Sports)

No slingshot can defeat Goliath this time around.  No need for 3 sets, 5 sets, Game 3s, nor Game 5s.

The Bullpups did not need any more tomorrows.

From the get-go, the Bullpups established its inside presence early. With DLSZ's 1-3-1 zone in full effect to start the game, Coach Jeff Napa knew where to make a mark in an instant: the post. Coach Napa did not do anything fancy, in fact he did not show alot of movements in his zone offense. Its just a matter of getting the ball down low.

The guards would make a few passes and when it gets reversed to the weak side, Baltazar was ready to operate. The first few possessions was all it took to get him going. Credit to Justine's high IQ, he was able to exploit the mismatches as he recognized that Zobel was not doubling him, nor the weak side defense digging at the post. It wasnt only Baltazar who clicked early though, Clemente had his usual numbers, but Rookie PG Win Coyoca and Ryan Amsali did their thing right away too.

Fast forward to the second quarter, Sario and Melecio were hitting their threes as they rode on with the crowd's momentum. NU led as much as 13 in the first half, and Zobel was able to trim it down to only four points. The Bullpups then answered back and took control as the game was approaching halftime. As the Junior Archers were gaining momentum once again and were able to cut the lead back to eight points, this happened:

Have you ever heard of a "dagger" basket in a tightly contested game before the second half even started? Well, this may be your first time to see one. 

What a shot! Aint it?


Here’s another look, at slow motion


At 0.01, the ball was clearly still on Coyoca’s hands


In a very very split second, the ball is now slightly out of Win’s


At 0.00, it is clear that Win Coyoca released the ball in time


Close call, isn't it? Props to Commissioner Rebo Saguisag, he immediately brought out the official FIBA rulebook (Art 16.2.5) or casually called as the “Trent Tucker” rule after they counted the three, which states


                “The game clock must indicate 0:00.3 (3 tenths of a second) or more for a player to gain control of the ball on a throw-in or on a rebound after the last or only free throw in order to attempt a shot for a field goal. If the game clock indicates 0:00.2 or 0:00.1 the only type of a valid field goal made is by tapping or directly dunking the ball.”


[This was contrary to our beliefs that the clock must indicate 0:00.4 for a valid shot to be thrown (Derek Fisher, 2004 NBA Playoffs vs San Antonio Spurs ) as explained by NBA panelists. UAAP defers to FIBA rules, not NBA’s]

Commissioner Rebo then explained to our partners in ABS-CBN Sports Anton Roxas and Marco Benitez about this rule and credit to the panelists for delivering the message well about the decision of the officials.  This was a very good call. If not for the rulebook, we'll all have our different theories, our different "what could have beens".

The lead was back to 11 at halftime, 48-37.

To start the third, NU went on a rampage. Win Coyoca made two threes to start the third, Clemente had five straight points to top Coyoca’s outburst. Just like that, it was 11 straight for the Bullpups. They hit from all cylinders: paint, perimeters, wings, corners, everywhere.  NU then went on to a 25-6 run to start the second half in just seven minutes of play. It was 73-43. Since then, the Junior Archers simply could not recover. The Junior Archers had a bright spot in Jan Sobrevega, the spark off the bench with 20 points and shot 67% from the field. But the Bullpups always had answers when Zobel would respond and the lead was just too big for the Junior Archers to make a comeback.

Call it running out of gas, naubos, crashing back to earth, or NU was just simply like a 'Goliath', but NU just played their game. Dominated the point, patient on offense, made their shots from the perimeter and kickout baskets, swarmed the DLSZ offense that did not give them a chance to get their game going. Or better yet, hindi sila nakaporma. They showed that they were not a Baltazar-Clemente team, but a well-oiled machine that just would not rust.

Given the choice for the Game Three MVP?  Hats off to rookie Win Coyoca He started off anchoring the backcourt defense, gave Fortuna, Melecio and Sario a tougher time, and hit big shots on the other end. To top that, he was the team's top scorer with 20 and had six boards. Ryan Amsali proved to be an X-factor too, as he finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds. If you look at the stats sheet, Ryan is +23, meaning when he's on the court, the team outscored their opponent by 23 points. The biggest factor inside was Win Coyoca, where NU was +29 when Win was on the court, and he just spent 26 minutes inside. Baltazar and Clemente? Only +11 and +16 respectively.

Winning the championship in fashion, it was a ‘Goliath’-like performance. No mercy, no compassion. The Bullpups’ biggest lead was 33. No deadlocks, no lead changes, Zobel never even led the game. Their #1 strength, points in the paint? A whopping 42 points, or 43% of their total output. Outrebounded the green shirts too , 58-36. To top it all off, March 4 was their day. Not only the Coyoca buzzer beater, but almost every difficult shot that they attempted went in. They shot 52% from the field and made eight three pointers as a team.

For De La Salle Zobel, there's nothing to be ashamed off. The Alabang-squad achieved so much (understatement) this season:  Filoil Flying V Tournament Champs, finished 1st runner up in the PSSBC tournament and the PCABL Summer League, where no Zobel team has accomplished this much in the recent years. MVP Aljun Melecio proved to us that this was not a one-man team but a group that will do everything and anything and give it all to achieve greater glory. For graduating players Brent Paraiso, Marco Sario and Miguel Fortuna, no height and size can stop them from competing, as they proved to their matchups that they were no pushovers. It is now up to Martin Romero’s, Joaqui Mariano’s and Jan Sobrevega’s shoulders to lead and to reinforce their team for next season. A big feat as 10 seniors will be graduating, the challenge now is on the brilliant coaching staff of Coach Boris Aldeguer on finding again the right pieces to be once again legitimate contenders. Props to them as well for making bright adjustments and the only ones to hand the Bullpups their only loss this season.

For NU, the future is still in sight. With graduating players Justine Baltazar, Daniel Atienza, Karl Penano and seven more players off to bright tomorrows and blue-chip colleges, the team’s state is still pretty much solid. Ryan Amsali, John Lloyd Clemente, Joshua Jugar and Win Coyoca will still be there to anchor the team, I am certain that their new recruits will be as solid or even better than this year’s lineup. No doubt Coach Jeff Napa and his staff should get as much credit as his players does. But for now, let them savor the moment, where all the hardwork and sacrifice are being rewarded into such a surreal accomplishment. That feeling that they are once again on top of the world. A state of bliss that nobody can ever take away from.

Three championships in five years? Not bad. What’s scary is that NU will always be a ‘Goliath’ team in the years to come.



For all stats, video, and info, credit goes out to:

Pong Ducanes of Imperium Technology
ABS –CBN Sports and Action
Official Website of FIBA ( for basketball rules
Anton Roxas

Follow this writer on Twitter, @migsbustos

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