Bulldogs hoping hard work pays off once again

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 30, 2016 07:52 PM
Bulldogs hoping hard work pays off once again
WORK HARD, PLAY HARD. Alfred Aroga said NU has been preparing for UAAP Season 79 since January.

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 7-7

YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Alfred Aroga, J-Jay Alejandro, Med Salim

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Matthew Aquino, Chino Mosqueda, Matt Salem

GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Gelo Alolino, Pao Javelona, Kyle Neypes

Just like they always have, National University is staying well under the radar as the new season of the UAAP approaches.

Asked about their team goals, new top gun J-Jay Alejandro said modestly, “Every season naman, we take it one game at a time. Kung pumasok sa Final Four or Finals, blessing na sa amin yun.”

Don’t think, however, that the Bulldogs have simply forgotten the unceremonious manner they lost their championship a season ago. Talking about their failed title defense then, team captain Alfred Aroga said, “The coaches keep emphasizing that we fell short so we have to come in with a sense of urgency.”

He then continued, “Starting January, we’ve been working hard, really hard that it’s kind of crazy. So if we’re working that hard and we don’t get rewarded, it’d be painful.”

In making sure they do their absolute best to avoid that kind of pain, the graduating big man from Cameroon said they have all come together already. As he put it, “For you to achieve something, you need to trust – you need to trust the coaches, you need to trust the system. And I think that’s what we have been doing – trusting the coaches, trusting the system.”

Apparently, that system will have some sort of revision for the upcoming collegiate wars. “There’s a big change in offense and defense and all of us are really, really focused. NU is known as a defensive team, but our offense will be getting better,” Aroga said.

He expounded, “The previous years, the ball was in the hands of a couple of guys. This year, everybody will touch the ball.”

Now without all of Troy Rosario, Glenn Khobuntin, Gelo Alolino, and Pao Javelona since their championship campaign, the Bulldogs will turn the ball over to Alejandro, Aroga, and transferee forwards Matt Aquino and Matt Salem who could both stretch the floor.

Having a big man who could spread the floor was a big part of NU’s recipe for success two years ago and coach Eric Altamirano may have his new Rosario in both Aquino and Salem. “I feel na yung personnel namin will be able to maximize yung strengths sa what were trying to do,” he said.

He then continued, “’Di naman kami magiging offensive-oriented, alam naman natin na defensive team kami ever since, but we just wanted to add something more.”

Altamirano wasn’t one to make guarantees about where he and his wards are headed, however. Asked about the goals he set for the team, he replied, “We just don’t want to be the same team when we finish the season kasi by then, dapat better kami.”

And in Alejandro’s eyes, the Bulldogs are already doing that. As he put it, “Each and every day, nag-iimprove kami. Yun naman yung target namin e, to improve everyday.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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