NU ready to host UAAP Season 75 in ritzy MOA ArenaBy Mark Giongco
From the historical Araneta Coliseum to the state-of-the-art SM Mall of Asia Arena.
If anything else, the billion-peso worth Arena is a symbol of change.
And as the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) goes into a major turn, so does National University, the SM-owned institution and host of the upcoming Season 75.
“This is the first hosting of National University with our new partners the SM group of companies and we’re all excited and our partners are also excited about it. And we want to show it to our fans, supporters, especially our alumni and make them proud of our school,” said UAAP President Nilo Ocampo.
“We want them to support the team already. We won’t be the losing Bulldogs,” Ocampo confidently said.
Since the partnership with the giant SM group, the Bulldogs have drastically transformed its image from laughing stock to a major threat.
“Now, for sure not just in basketball but in all events we’ll give everyone a hard time. Before we’re always last. Last year, we’re runner-ups in badminton, champion in baseball and in volleyball we almost made it to the final four,” added Ocampo, who also said that the arena can ‘comfortably sit 14,500.’
NU’s men’s basketball team, which is primed for a run for the plum, was the first one to test the court during its practice.
“It’s like an NBA arena, feels like home,” marveled reigning UAAP MVP Ray Parks. “The dugouts, there’s a special dugout for us but it’s not finished yet. We used the away dugout and it was definitely huge. They haven’t put too much in it but it’s more spacious, definitely more than Araneta.”
NU, no matter how the players and coaches downplay it, will have a so-called home-court advantage not necessarily due to their fan support but rather their familiarity with the arena.
“Every time we step on the court we play together so it doesn’t really matter where we’re playing,” said Parks.
As per Ocampo, “we can call this the home of the Bulldogs.”
“I think it will be a very good year for us in all events.”