Laranas, Salenga, NU booters look to avoid repeat of first round stumble

Santino Honasan on Mar 24, 2016 05:27 PM
NU booters look to avoid repeat of first round stumble
Paolo Salenga (19) and the NU Bulldogs are trying to avoid a repeat of their first round stumble

After opening the second round with two consecutive wins, the National University men’s booters are in an all-too similar situation.

Back in the first round, the Bulldogs opened with two consecutive wins, and then an all-important draw against FEU and would stay on top of the standings. In their next two outings though, they would drop matches to UST and Ateneo, before rebounding and drawing UP and DLSU at the end of the round.

And while two losses are hardly enough to warrant the title of a "collapse", they were enough to send the Bulldogs stumbling down in the standings and away from a comfortable first, second, or even third seed.

Now however, the Bulldogs are back in the top four with 15 points, tied with Ateneo and UP, but ahead in terms of goal difference. This time around, the Bulldogs hope to be able to hold on to a Final Four spot and avoid another stumble midway into the round.

 “Yun ang gusto naming baguhin. Before, nawala yung momentum pagdating sa mga malalakas na teams.” NU coach Lelem Laranas told ABS-CBN Sports. “We’re slowly changing it already, hindi lang sa tactical kundi sa mental talaga nila. Yun yung kailangan naming ma-address.”

Skipper Paolo Salenga also shared what he feels they need to to as a team to keep themselves in the running for the team’s first ever post-season appearance.

“Siguro consistency sa game, double effort sa game, and willingness na manalo para hindi kami matalo sa mga next games namin. Focus lang sa game, one game at a time.”

Considered as the team’s leader when on the pitch, Salenga has always trusted and relied on what his coach tells him and the team to do. What Salenga has to do is make sure that he and the rest of the Bulldog booters are able to get it done.

“Kung ano yung plano niya sa training, kung anong gagawin namin, magfofocus kami sa mga ipapagawa niya, kasi alam niya kung paano maglaro yung mga kalaban namin, so magfofocus kami sa strategy niya, and gagawin namin ng tama.”

For the senior striker, who’s on his last tour of duty with the Navy and Gold, it’s now or never, and he sees the second round as his last opportunity to get back at the teams that got the better of them during the first half of the season, but more importantly, get every valuable point that they can.

“Kailangan talaga namin manalo every game para hindi kami mawala sa top-four. Every game, cruicial sa amin yung mga points, kaya kailangan naming trabahuin yung mga game namin.”

The next challenge for Laranas, Salenga, and the NU Bulldogs is against a struggling De La Salle team, who have lost their last two games after finishing the first round unbeaten and on top. 

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