UAAP: NU coach lauds Bulldogs’ composure vs gritty UST in finals opening win
MANILA, Philippines—National University coach Dante Alinsunurin admitted they had a hard time staving off the hard-fighting University of Santo Tomas in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament.
The Bulldogs blew a two-set lead as Josh Ybanez and GBoy De Vega lifted the Golden Spikers to force a decider.
Fortunately for NU, rookie Michaelo Buddin came to the rescue in the fifth with some help from UST’s costly errors to escape with a 25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 29-31, 15-11 victory on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Alinsunurin was relieved after moving on the cusp of a historic three-peat and extending their winning streak to 33 games dating back to 2019.
“Talagang napalaban kami ngayong finals. Hindi namn ine-expect ang magiging diskarte nila.Ngayong araw nakalusot kami,” said Alinsunurin. “Pag-aaralan namin kung ano man ang naging problema sa opensa and sa block. Siyempre ang ginagawang screening sa serve, mag-aadjust rin kami and pagdating namin, mas maganda ang game 2 namin. Mas maging tiwala kami sa isa’t isa.”
(We were pushed to our limits in this finals series. We didn’t expect their strategy and we barely made it. We will study our problems on our offense, blocking, and of course our serve. We will make the necessary adjustments so come Game 2 we will play better and we trust each other more.)
After UST gave them all they could handle, the former men’s national volleyball team coach praised his team’s composure with Buddin and veteran players Nico Almendras and Joshua Retamar leading the way.
“They were brave and didn’t give up despite the lapses. What’s important is they stayed composed even we had some problems during the game,” said the four-time UAAP champion coach in Filipino.
“UST’s setup was new to us. That’s why it took time for us to adjust but in the end, I saw my players’ composure and trust in each other. I let them talk to each other in the crucial parts of the match and I’m glad they found a way to win,” he added.
NU tries to capture its fifth overall crown in Game 2 on Sunday and complete a perfect 16-0 season for the first time in the team’s history.
Retamar, who hurt his right knee after an accidental collision with Ybanez in the fifth set, says he will play as the Bulldogs try to close out their first championship series against UST in the Final Four era.