Three things to appreciate for the new look NU Bulldogs win over CSB Blazers in Filoil
by rick olivares
The young National University Bulldogs impressively held their own against the College of Saint Benilde Blazers with a 59-54 win in the nightcap of the second day of the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup yesterday.
The Bulldogs, sans the stars who led them to the UAAP Men’s Basketball championship two years ago, had only three players in uniform from that squad — point guard Rev Diputado and swingman Dave Wilson Yu and starting center Alfred Aroga. Aroga was present for the CSB match although was unavailable. Yet this young Bulldogs team impressively held their own also against a young CSB squad.
Here’s how these Bulldogs looked:
It’s a young team loaded with potential.
They aren’t only younger. They are taller and with more offensive options. Last year, it was just Gelo Alolino and Alfred Aroga. This year, aside from Aroga, point guard Rev Diputado will shoot more. Plus, they’ve got Matt Salem who was on La Salle’s Season 76 championship team before transferring to NU. Salem looked on target but outside his shooting, I like his willingness to play inside — he finished with seven rebounds, tied for a team best with Matt Aquino. Former Chiang Kai Shek College star JV Gallego, in uniform after being delayed for a year on account of academics, will help. But he really has to adjust to the speed, height, and power of the college game.
Outside Diputado, Salem, and Gallego, there’s JJ Alejandro, now in his third season and he should round out into deadly form. That is four players who can put the ball in the hoop. Cedrick Labing-isa, who is back for his final year, will not only add to their corps of shooters but also add speed and a willingess to push the ball.
However, looking at NU, if you take away Aroga, a lot of their points will come from their guards and perimeter plays. They do not have yet the post-player outside Aroga to give a different facet to their game. At best, Meds Salim, Gallego’s teammate at CKSC, who played better towards the end of the last UAAP season, is the Freddie Abuda type of scrapper. He will be better inside this year.
Matt Aquino will be counted to guard the taller forwards and centers of opposing teams to free up Aroga until the clutch or as needed. He won’t be by his lonesome as Kris Go, Tzaddy Rangel, and Cauilan are also there. I liked their willingness to bottle up and battle CSB’s 6’7” Clement Leutcheu.
Team-wise, I also appreciated how the Bulldogs passed that ball around, patiently working the ball to the open man. There was constant movement with every player on the floor working hard.
Reggie Morido is being groomed to be in the mold of Glenn Khobuntin.
Khobuntin made a name for himself first for the Letran Squires in the NCAA Juniors then with the Bulldogs in the UAAP as a slashing forward with a decent outside shot. His ability to finish or get inside the lane wreaked havoc on opposing defenses.
Jeff Javillionar was givent that opportunity last season after he returned from a knee injury that sidelined him before the championship season. However, he didn’t look fully confident of his abilities. Morido or even Nikko Abatayo were given that role to mixed results. However, based on the first Filoil outing, the Bulldogs’ first real tournament this calendar year, Morido looked great. He led NU with 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Morido, who came up from NU’s high school team two seasons ago along with Manuel Mosqueda and Caulian, played exactly like Khobuntin especially in the clutch.
Mosqueda if you ask me is an under-the-radar player. He can play defensive stopper and can attack the basket. Love this player because even back with the Bullpups showed his willingness to play different roles.
Tweaks in the coaching staff.
There are two familiar faces albeit in different places. Aiding the NU coaching staff this year is basketball great Alvin Patrimonio who was last seen assisting Bong dela Cruz over at UST last season. He will be NU’s big man coach.
Also new to the team is trainer Dan Rose who previously worked with Vergel Meneses at Jose Rizal University and Gabby Velasco at CSB. if you look at these Bulldogs, they look like fine physical specimens. Although according to NU head coach Eric Altamirano, the team, under Rose, have not done serious heavy lifting. “It will be a few more months before the start of the UAAP season,” pointed out Altamirano. “Dan says it’s not yet time. He is spacing the players’ fitness and conditioning so we peak at the right time.”
Next match for the NU Bulldogs is this Saturday, May 7, at the Filoil Flying V Centre, against Perpetual Help at 3:15pm.