UAAP Season 81 Finals: Bulldogs start title defense
Mark Escarlote on May 11, 2019 01:24 AM
Defending champion National University begins its repeat bid on Saturday against Far Eastern University.
National University braces for a tough battle as the Bulldogs begin their title defense against a very hungry and determined Far Eastern University side on Saturday in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 men’s volleyball tournament at the Big Dome.
Game time is at 12:00 noon and it will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and via livestream.
The Bulldogs are making their seventh straight Finals appearance but will take on a different opponent after the Tamaraws booted out Ateneo de Manila University in the Final Four thus ending the five-year NU-Ateneo title rivalry.
NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin knows that this is going to be a challenging series as both teams are equal in firepower.
“Siguro nagkakatalo na kami ngayon kung sino ang makaka-receive talaga. Halos pantay naman ang team ngayon sa skills at sa experience,” said Alinsunurin, who last faced FEU in the Finals back in Season 75 when he steered the Bulldogs to the first of three titles.
NU and FEU split their elimination round head-to-head with the Tams dealing the Bulldogs a straight sets beating in the season-opener. NU returned the favor in their rematch.
The Bulldogs will come into the match carrying the momentum of a 14-game winning streak, including a straight sets domination of Adamson University in the Final Four.
Alinsunurin will pin his hopes on his solid and battle-tested line-up led by Season MVP Bryan Bagunas, Rookie of the Year Angelo Almendras, James Natividad, Francis Saura and Kim Malabunga.
But FEU is no easy opponent.
The Tams are coming into the game hungry for the crown that eluded them since winning it all back in Season 74.
“Yun naman lagi ang mindset namin from coaching staff, yung mga advicer namin, yung mga supporters namin. Talagang ang laging naka-mindset kami na uhaw, na gusto naming makuha (ang kampeonato). Sinimulan na natin dapat walang titigil,” said FEU coach Rei Diaz.
Leading the charge of the Tams are Jude Garcia, Richard Solis, JP Bugaoan, Redijohn Paler, Peter Quiel and setter Owen Suarez.
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