UAAP FINALS: NU goes for the kill
Mark Escarlote on May 02, 2018 07:44 AM
National University is out to knock archrival Ateneo de Manila University off the throne.
National University head coach Dante Alinsunurin will work on a few minor adjustments as the Bulldogs go for the title-clincher on Wednesday against archrival three-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 80 men’s volleyball Finals at the Big Dome.
Already a win away to formally wrap the best-of-three championship series and end a three-year title drought, the Bulldogs will march into the duel set at 12:00 noon hoping to carry the momentum of their huge opening day win.
The match will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA on SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD on SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream.
Relying on its steady and effective service game, NU took the Blue Eagles out of their comfort zone for a masterful 25-20, 25-19, 25-23, win last Saturday.
With Ateneo struggling with its control of the first ball, the Bulldogs effectively slowed down the offense of five-time Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo, who scored only 16 points after averaging 46 markers per game in the semis, and limited five-time Best Setter Ish Polvorosa to a season-low 11 excellent sets.
Alinsunurin said that he’ll stick with the same strategy while adding minor tweaks to their game plan to finish off the Katipunan-based squad.
“Meron namang adjustment, pero hindi naman grabe, siguro by positioning lang, kung ano 'yung pwede naming gawin sa position every time sa match-up,” he said. “Tapos 'yung service namin, talagang magpo-pokus kami na kargahan, and then sa block din.”
Bryan Bagunas exploded for 19 points for the Bulldogs the last time out while Madzlan Gampong provided the much-needed support to help NU win its first Finals game since claiming the crown back in Season 76.
The Bulldogs are brimming with confidence and Alinsunurin hopes to take advantage of that to deliver NU’s third title.
“As of now kasi, noong natalo namin ang Ateneo, nakita ko sa kanila na nag-gain na sila ng confidence sa paglalaro. Kaya ngayon, nakita ko na every time na may sitwasyon kami, nakaka-adjust na sila,” he said. “Last year kasi, sa laro namin parang pilit na pilit every time na merong situation eh. Parang ang bagal ng recovery namin sa laro. Pero ngayon nakita ko na every time na may situation, nakaka-recover agad kami kaya nakakabalik agad kami sa laro.”
Game 3, if necessary, is on Saturday at the same venue.
And this is the mission of Ateneo.
To survive, the Blue Eagles must come out with the same energy and intensity they had during Final Four when they toppled the twice-to-beat Far Eastern University.
“So we really have to match up or rather cope up kung anong pwedeng magawa namin outside that power and strength (ng NU),” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro.
Chumason Njigha, Ron Medalla, Gian Glorioso, John-john Rivera and skipper Karl Baysa must step up this time to help Espejo on offense.
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