Done trying to prove they belong, Bulldogs look to impose themselves
Before the start of the postgame press conference last Wednesday, coach Jeff Napa popped a question to reporters.
“When did we last beat [Ateneo]? 2016?” the National University mentor asked after the Bulldogs’ tense 78-74 victory over the Blue Eagles in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
It was a question that highlighted how special National University’s win was over the powerhouse college program. But the celebratory feeling over the victory was fleeting and it was over a few minutes into the Q and A.
“This was an ordinary game for us that we needed to gain momentum … in the second round,” Napa later said.
After weeks of pounding on how the Bulldogs needed to prove they belong in the conversation on title favorites, Napa is done pushing that narrative. It is the second round after all and results start to matter.
“We’re done trying to prove something,” he said. “We need to impose our name in the UAAP map.”
That’s why he said the team needed to get back to “painful, tiring” work immediately as the Bulldogs prepare to face a streaking first-round tormentor, Far Eastern U (FEU).
“We can’t just rely on what we did today,” Napa said. “We really need to come out strong against FEU … because they beat us [in the first round].”
The Tamaraws have won four straight since opening the season on five straight losses and the clash could prove crucial for an NU team currently at second place.
The top two teams at the end of the elimination round earns twice-to-beat protection in the semifinals, although Napa doesn’t want to look that far ahead.
“I don’t want to talk about the standings for now. Let’s just wait for the end of the second round and see what happens,” he said. “We just need to keep working hard and let’s see where that takes us.”
National U battles FEU in the third game of a heavy four-game schedule at Smart Araneta Coliseum that starts at 11 a.m.
—Inquirer Sports Staff
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