UAAP Season 82: NU Bulldogs keeping a close guard of the throne
Mark Escarlote on Feb 18, 2020 06:23 PM
National University is ready to protect its crown.
Defending champion National University is looking to sustain its winning form in the post-Bryan Bagunas era.
Although the Bulldogs lost a prolific scorer in Bagunas along with veterans Kim Malabunga, Madzlan Gampong and Francis Saura after their successful back-to-back title run last year, NU remains to be a formidable team with key returnees which include national team members setter Joshua Retamar and libero Ricky Marcos.
But the holdovers know that protecting their crown this UAAP Season 82 won't be an easy task especially with a very competitive field this year.
"Kailangan naming pag-igihan at paghirapan kasi ang daming nawala sa amin," said Marcos, who together with team captain James Natividad and three other seniors are on their swan songs.
Retamar, who was the main setter of the Nationals who won the silver medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last December, stresses that they have to play mature this year if they want to keep their hold of the throne.
"Ang mindset po naming lahat na kailangan po talaga mag-mature kami sa lahat ng ginagawa namin sa court. Lalo na ang mga decision-making namin," said the 19-year old playmaker. "So kailangan lahat ng kilos, lahat ng decision-making namin sa loob ng court pulido po at lahat nasa sistema ng nilalaro namin."
Also making his return is last year's top rookie Nico Almendras while the Bulldogs added a new weapon in Edward Camposano, the Season 77 Rookie-of-the-Year.
Camposano, a transferee from University of the East, is expected to fill in the shoes left by Bagunas.
"Ok naman po [ang connection] namin. Same na same sa way ng atake, halos same lang po sila ni Kuya Bry," said Retamar of Camposano, who was a member of the national team that saw action in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.
For Natividad, he is confident that Bulldogs remain to be as dangerous as they were the year before.
"Malaking bagay na nawala ang apat na seniors. Pero bilib din ako kay Coach Dante [Alinsinurin], kahit nawala ang mga seniors namin may mga pumalit na halos apat na taon na sa second six," said Natividad. "Kumbaga hinasa sila para pag-graduate ng mga seniors may papalit na maayos."
"'Yun siguro ang pinagkaiba namin sa ibang teams," he added.
As part of their preparations, the Bulldogs trained in Japan to address their weaknesses and further develop their strengths.
"Sa Japan talagang nag-training kami sa defense and blocking. Dati problema namin ang service receive pero sa Japan yun po talaga ang natutunan namin and na-improve," said Retamar.
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