UAAP Season 81 Finals: Opening day loss sparked NU’s repeat title run

Mark Escarlote on May 15, 2019 05:03 PM
Opening day loss sparked NU’s repeat title run
Sobrang laking bagay sa amin ‘yun kasi galing nga kami sa ASEAN University Games na nag-champion kami and nag-training din kami sa Japan para paghandaan itong (UAAP), tapos biglang ganoon lang ang nangyari sa amin. Tingin ko nagising talaga ang team -- NU coach Dante Alinsunurin

National University head coach Dante Alinsunurin considered the Bulldogs’ season-opening loss at the hands of Far Eastern University as the turning point of their repeat title campaign.

Fresh from a historic gold medal conquest in the ASEAN University Games two months before the start of the UAAP Season 81 men’s volleyball tournament, the Bulldogs were the favorites to win it all.

But the Tamaraws sent them crashing back to earth with a straight sets beating.      

“Sobrang laking bagay sa amin ‘yun kasi galing nga kami sa ASEAN University Games na nag-champion kami and nag-training din kami sa Japan para paghandaan itong (UAAP), tapos biglang ganoon lang ang nangyari sa amin. Tingin ko nagising talaga ang team,” said Alinsurin on Wednesday after the Bulldogs completed their best-of-three Finals sweep of FEU at the MOA Arena.     

NU struggled in their first game after veteran setter Kim Dayandante was deemed ineligible to play just days before the opening day. Rookie playmaker Joshua Retamar had a shaky performance in his baptism of fire.

“Dun nagsimula na ‘O nasaan na ba tayo ngayon? Bakit biglang natalo tayo?’” said Alinsunurin.

But that loss served as the Bulldogs’ jumping point to an amazing run that brought them their second straight crown and fourth title overall in seven years.

“Buti naman naka-catch up kami, nakabalik kami sa panalo then tuluy-tuloy namin sa ginagawa namin yun nagbunga, nakuha ulit namin ang championship,” added Alinsunurin, whose squad closed the season with a 16-game winning streak.

Graduating hitter Bryan Bagunas, who was named Season and Finals Most Valuable Player, exploded for a career-high 35 points in NU’s 24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 25-19, Game 2 win.  

“Sobrang saya kasi itong pag-exit namin ng mga seniors sobrang history,” Bagunas said. “’Yun nga ‘yung tatlong taon na yung mga senior namin na nag-exit sila na di sila champion so parang inisip na lang namin na hindi namin ipaparamdam sa sarili namin ang pag-exit na ganoon.”

 

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