No Rike, no problem because NU still has young guns Ildefonsos, JLC

Philip Matel on Sep 02, 2018 03:43 PM
No Rike, no problem because NU still has Ildefonsos, JLC
Dave Ildefonso is just one of the several blue-chip recruits NU has welcomed with open arms

All eyes will be on the NU Bulldogs for the upcoming UAAP Season 81. 

Not only because they will be the hosts for this season, but many are curious whether the team's rookies would immediately make a positive impact for the team.

These first-timers, if they pan out, will be together for five years - and a good start would do a lot for their fledgling collegiate career. 

Even though Gilas cadet Troy Rike will not be with them, NU is still one of the contenders for this year's Final Four - a trip they last made in Season 78.

And who knows, they might just challenge defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles in the championship series. 

The biggest question is if their rookies can mesh with returning players Issa Gaye, Enzo Joson, Jonas Tibayan, Dave WIlson Yu, JV Gallego, and Joshua Sinclair.

Without veterans J-Jay Alejandro, Jordan Bartlett, Matt Salem, and Chino Mosqueda, coach Jamike Jarin will certainly need his new faces to deliver fast.

One of the more anticipated debuts this season is John Lloyd Clemente who will be seen as one of the designated scorers in the Bulldog offense.

Just like his team, he expects to help NU to the playoffs by hook or by crook, but clarifies that there is no pressure and they just want to enjoy their first season.

"Masaya mag-coach si coach Jamike. Fun coach siya eh. Outside and inside," Clemente said about his coach. "Ayusin ko lang every game, maging consistent lang ako. Offense and defense para manalo."

Another anticipated debut in donning the blue and gold will be that of brothers Shaun and Dave Ildefonso, sons of Philippine basketball great and school legend Danny. Both had come from the successful Ateneo Blue Eaglet program and both want nothing more than to translate their success at the collegiate level.

For Dave, he believes that NU is the best place he could hone and polish his skills, as he does not want to have fallen behind if he had joined the very stacked rotation of coach Tab Baldwin's lineup back in Katipunan.

"I really want to play. So yung nakita ko sa Ateneo, it's a stacked lineup. Naisip ko na I won't be able to play, have a lot of minutes after two years, so pinag-isipan ko na I really need the exposure and siguro I didn't want to get that exposure from playing Team B, ganoon," the swingman said.

"I really didn't want that. Sa tingin ko, I didn't really want to become a bench player. And it's really hard. And binigyan ako ng trust na to be able to fill the role."

He also clarified that the two-time PBA MVP did not have a hand in his son's decision.

"Sinasabi sa akin, lagi kong naririnig na tatay ko ang nagsabi, si tatay. Kung talagang kilala talaga nila ako, minsan kasi, gusto kong gumimik, so pag nasa NU ako, hindi ako masyadong makakagimik kasi tutok ako. Pero kasi pag nasa Ateneo ako, free ako and all that, pero since it's just a small thing compared to what I really want to be, and where I really want to be," Dave said.

For Shaun, meanwhile, a forward who transferred to Sampaloc from Katipunan and was redshirted for a year, meshing with the roster would be a challenge, but his teammates already know their intended roles and leaves it to time to see how well it goes.

"...[W]e have players na who could fill that role. We have a lot actually. And so, let's just see, hope everything goes well, and hopes everything will be good for the season."

Rounding up the squad will be John Galinato, a guard whom coach Jarin will be able to rely on both ends of the floor.

"Tulungan ko ang team sa way ko, if ipapasok ako ni coach Jamike. Give long minutes, bigay ko lang best ko on offense and defense, atsaka ready ako lagi. Faciliatator and defender as well."

The 19-year old Galinato also added that there is immense outside pressure for them to win right now, but with the chemistry he and the others will be having down the road, it would just be time before NU makes noise once more.  

"Mas maganda pa lang na first year pa lang kami, magkasama kami, malayo na ang mararating namin. Ma-expose kami sa ibang teams na malalakas."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.

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