Bulldogs unveil ‘diamond’ UAAP, battle Warriors
MANILA, Philippines—When host National University unveils Season 75 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Saturday, the Bulldogs also aim to showcase the form that made them among the favorites.
The Bulldogs, hoping to have fully shed off the whipping boys tag, kick off their bid in the men’s basketball tournament where they loom as a threat to defending champion Ateneo.
“We’re motivated,” said Bulldogs star Ray Parks. “We motivate ourselves each and every day in practice.”
Parks, last season’s Most Valuable Player, hopes to lead the Bulldogs in their opening game against the University of the East at 2 p.m. at the new Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
NU formally tips off the league’s diamond anniversary celebration in the 12:30 p.m. opening rites featuring a lights-and-sounds spectacle.
Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas, two squads also ranked in the top four, clash in the second game at 4 p.m.
“We had a good summer run and we hope to carry it over to the UAAP,” said coach Eric Altamirano, whose Bulldogs pulled off a surprise title sweep in a preseason tournament.
Parks said the Bulldogs’ run won’t just center on him this time as Cameroonian Emmanuel Mbe, Gelo Alolino, Jeoff Javillonar, Dennice Villamor and Mark de Guzman are all expected to play pivotal roles.
“I have to put individual goals aside,” said Parks. “Everybody has each other’s back and everybody has the green light to shoot. We have that confidence.”
The Tamaraws, last year’s runner-up, hope to keep in step with the intact Tigers even with top guard RR Garcia coming off an injury.
“He will play, but he’s not 100 percent in shape,” FEU coach Bert Flores said of Garcia, who injured his ankle last month.
The Tigers, mentored by Pido Jarencio, return with guard Jeric Fortuna leading a veteran cast that includes Jeric Teng, Clark Bautista, Aljon Mariano, Kevin Ferrer and Karim Abdul.
“Most of us have been together for at least two years,” said Fortuna. “We’re among the veteran teams this year.”
ABS-CBN Sports will air the games live on Studio 23, Balls HD Skycable channel 167, The Filipino Channel (TFC) and live streaming on Uaapsports.tv.