Napa tempers NU celebration: Main target is UAAP
Winning the 2022 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup was a feat in itself. For National University coach Jeff Napa, however, it’s just a stepping stone to the real goal.
“I told [the players], there’s no need to celebrate,” said Napa after the Bulldogs hammered the Far Eastern University, 56-46, in San Juan on Saturday. “This is just an ordinary game. Our main target is almost one month from now. That’s why we entered this preseason for preparation for the UAAP.”
NU certainly couldn’t have gotten its UAAP bid off on a better foot. The Bulldogs swept their 11 games in the preseason tournament on the way to the crown. Their win against the Tamaraws was also the second against a Final Four squad from the previous UAAP season. NU also beat champion University of the Philippines in Group A, 74-72.
But Napa is guarding against the contention that the Bulldogs will be a title threat after their latest conquest.
“I still can’t say we are contenders. There are still the defending champions UP, Ateneo and La Salle. For us, this is a big bonus, a big boost of confidence in gaining this Filoil preseason [title],” he said. The Bulldogs missed the Final Four last season by one win, finishing in sixth place behind Adamson University, FEU, La Salle, UP and Ateneo.
For the coming college season, NU lost the services of Janjan Felicilda and Reyland Torres, but they will be led by their troika of guards, Steve Nash Enriquez, L.A. Casinillo and newly-acquired talent Kean Baclaan.
The Bulldogs won the preseason crown by limiting the Tamaraws to an abysmal 21.5 percent from the field.
“What I preach is defense first before offense. The boys bought in a little bit, but I’m not contented because there were still numerous flaws,” Napa said.