February 21, 2024

School Spirit: NU starting five among active players in PBA

School Spirit: NU starting five among active players in PBA
Art by Royce Nicdao

Numbers-wise, active PBA players from the NU Bulldogs program are considered a minority in the league.

Don’t let that fool you though because it’s quality over quantity for these dogs in the PBA, and they will surely not back down against other UAAP starting fives among other active players.

This series already featured lineups from the UST Growling Tigers, Ateneo Blue Eagles, FEU Tamaraws, and Adamson Soaring Falcons

Here are the five of the Bulldogs:

Jjay Alejandro (Season 76 to Season 80)

Alejandro was just in his sophomore year when the Bulldogs won the title, but that experience helped him develop into an all-around guard for the squad. During his final season, he finished with averages of 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists. 

Alejandro is now poised to make the leap in the PBA, as he's currently the highest-scoring local for the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the early goings of the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

RELATED STORY: Jamike Jarin points out what many forget about Jjay Alejandro after Phoenix's win over NLEX

Shaun Ildefonso (Season 81 to Season 84)

The youngest of the bunch but definitely not a lightweight. The oldest son of PBA legend Danny Ildefonso transferred to NU after playing just one season with the Ateneo Blue Eagles. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, hit in the middle of Shaun's collegiate career. 

Now, the certified gym rat is learning from more legends as part of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, including Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, and coach Yeng Guiao.

Troy Rosario (Season 75 to Season 77)

The best active Bulldogs alumnus. Rosario was a key member in NU's Cinderella run to its first-ever UAAP title in Season 77. He played three years for the Bulldogs, displaying versatility and athleticism that made him a tough matchup. While he missed out on a Mythical Team nod and any individual award during his stint with the Bulldogs, his contributions to claim their first championship will forever be remembered.

After playing several years with the TNT Tropang Giga, where he won a championship in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, he's now one of the pillars of the Blackwater Bossing. He's also a former member of Gilas Pilipinas.

Glenn Khobuntin (Season 73 to Season 77)

Another key contributor to NU's title in 2014, Khobuntin has always been known as a defensive ace since his collegiate days. The forward from Cagayan de Oro completed his five-year stay with the Bulldogs after being recruited by then-coach Eric Altamirano. 

In the PBA, Khobuntin played for the NLEX Road Warriors and the Terrafirma Dyip before landing with TNT, where he's won two championships.

Jewel Ponferrada (Season 70 to Season 74)

The oldest of the bunch, Ponferrada has already proven that he provides stability to every team he's played for. The center from Borongan, Eastern Samar was an underrated cog for NU before being drafted in the PBA as the 13th overall pick in 2012.

He's now with his fourth team in the PBA, providing quality minutes off the bench for the Tropang Giga with his hardnosed play and tenacity on defense.

Breaking down the team

This squad is as balanced as it can be. There's an anchor down low in Ponferrada. Ildefonso can attack the basket. Alejandro takes the role of ball handler. Rosario is a do-it-all player who can guard multiple positions and can shoot the ball. Khobuntin will guard the opposing team's best player and will do the dirty work. 

Most importantly, these players are winners. Aside from Ildefonso, all of them have experienced winning it all in college or the PBA. It's not a far cry to assume they will figure things out in case there's a reunion league down the line.