MANILA, Philippines — National University head coach Jeff Napa bared Steve Nash Enriquez is still recovering from a hamstring injury, but he assures that the point guard will return in the first round of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament.
Enriquez, the Bulldogs’ MVP in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL), was in street clothes in NU’s 77-70 victory over University of the East on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Napa said they didn’t want to rush Enriquez’s recovery from the injury he sustained before the playoffs of the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup, which NU also ruled.
“He will be ready. He will play definitely, but we’re saving him for now,” he said in Filipino.
“We don’t want to force him. Of course, he really wants to play. But he will play soon before the first round ends.”
Napa is excited for Enriquez’s comeback as he could form a potent combo with rookie Kean Baclaan, who had a fine debut with eight points, three rebounds, five assists and four steals.
“Steve will make a huge impact. He will complement Kean and other guards. Let’s wait for him to be ready. We can’t tell if it will be the next game or the third game. We don’t want to pressure him,” said Napa, whose team will face Ateneo on Wednesday at PhilSports Arena.
For now, Napa wants Enriquez to observe the games of his teammates to have a different perspective.
“We’re letting him cheer for now and watch the games. For him to see the things that we can correct so once he steps to the court, he will know,” he said.