National University pulled off a shocker when it beat Ateneo de Manila University for the first time in six years in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
But for Bulldogs head coach Jeff Napa, their 78-74 win wasn’t special.
Napa, one of the greatest players to suit up for the Bulldogs, said the victory over the powerhouse Blue Eagles squad was nothing but just a mere stepping stone towards their bigger goal of snapping their seven-year absence in the Final Four.
“I’m happy, only a little because the season isn’t over. They can’t satisfy me even if we won over Ateneo,” said Napa, whose squad last won over Ateneo on 11 September 2016, 70-60.
“This game is an ordinary game for us so that we can get momentum because, in the second round, it will be harder for us to compete if we won’t show our A-game. In order to compete with the big boys, we have to challenge ourselves.”
The last time NU made it to the Final Four was in 2015 when it was still being handled by Eric Altamirano with Gelo Alolino, Alfred Aroga, Paolo Javelona, Alfred Aroga and Jjay Alejandro as key players.
In the ongoing Season 85, the Bulldogs are holding a 6-2 win-loss record, giving them a handsome chance of making it to the next round with Steve Nash Enriquez, Kean Baclaan and John Lloyd Clemente serving as anchors.
Napa said the Bulldogs have to roar loud and hard inside the court and not just simply rely on the tactics on the board.
They must also stay consistent and keep the fire in their eyes when they march to their next games, starting with Far Eastern University at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“In the second round, we have to be consistent. In order to be big-time players, they have to step out of my shadow,” said Napa, who set a league scoring record of 43 points highlighted by 10 three-pointers during his playing career in 2002.
His record, however, was shattered by Alvin Pasaol of University of the East, who fired 49 points against De La Salle University, 15 years later.