NU eyes end of jinx vs FEU
If National University crashed the UAAP Finals by bullying top semifinalist Ateneo—the team that couldn’t beat the Bulldogs in six games since last year—it now finds itself on the opposite end against Far Eastern University.
The Bulldogs hope to keep their championship bid alive by stopping the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, the squad they have not beaten in three meetings in the men’s basketball tournament this season.
“We’re not thinking about that,” insists NU coach Eric Altamirano, adding that his Bulldogs lost by just an average margin of six points to the Tamaraws.
“I told the boys they were too emotional [in Game 1]. Emotions got in the way. We’re excited for the school, excited for the players. But we have to set that all aside and focus on the task.”
The Tamaraws hacked out a heart-stopping 75-70 victory over the Bulldogs in Game 1 last Saturday to move within a win of their 20th crown and their first since 2005.
Game 2 of the best-of-three starts 3:30 p.m. tomorrow at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The No. 4 Bulldogs survived three straight knockout matches to reach the title series for the first time in 44 years. They lost to the University of the East Warriors in the 1970 Finals.
The Bulldogs, whose lone crown came in 1954, fought for the last semifinal slot versus UE in a playoff, before overcoming the twice-to-beat advantage of Ateneo in the Final Four.
Altamirano knows the Bulldogs have a tougher task ahead as the Tamaraws had players like Roger Pogoy, Achie Iñigo, Ron Dennison and Anthony Hargrove backstopping the star duo of Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia.
“We were so worried about their premium players, we forgot about [Hargrove] underneath,” said Altamirano.