Athletes and coaches will agree that many of the battles on the court start with the right mindset.
Led by Kean Baclaan, John Lloyd Clemente, and Steve Nash Enriquez, the NU Bulldogs finished Season 85 with a 9-5 win-loss card, good for a solo third seed, just behind eventual finalists Ateneo Blue Eagles and UP Fighting Maroons.
In the Final Four game that was essentially nip and tuck, NU pushed UP to the limit, until the boys of Katipunan came clutch to pull the game away in the final minute. UP won, 69-61, but the fans knew that NU would be back for more.
Coach Jeff Napa says that they are looking to make even more teams sweat in the upcoming Season 86 of the UAAP.
“Kung ano ‘yung na-achieve namin last year, kailangan ma-surpass namin ‘yun,” Napa told One PH’s Power & Play in an interview on Saturday.
“Lagi kong mina-mindset [sa players], tapos na ‘yung season last year. Iba na ‘yung approach ngayon. If we will not perform, if we will not go all out, magkakaroon tayo ng problema,” Napa added.
Now without Clemente, the Bulldogs welcome another talent in defending UAAP juniors MVP Reinhard Jumamoy, creating a trio of talented guards with Baclaan and Enriquez.
Beyond the talent, Napa is preaching to aim high.
“Winning mentality na hindi na ‘yung Final Four na dapat ‘yung tinitingnan natin. Hindi naman masamang mangarap, ‘yung championship level, ‘yun ‘yung kailangang ma-achieve for this season pero siyempre, kailangan trabahuhin,” he said.
A former Bulldog himself, Napa experienced before when the cagers of Jhocson street frequented the UAAP's cellar. Armed with a promising squad, the 3-point sniper turned coach is intent on gaining more respect for his school.
“I coach for my alma mater. Nakita ko lahat, ‘yung ups and downs dito. Nakita ko rin sino ‘yung mga kalaban ko, how they treat us. ‘Yun ‘yung number one na nagiging motivation ko, na ipakita na hindi kami ‘yung ganun,” Napa elaborated.
“Eto kami. Talagang pinaparamdam ko na, ‘Kailangan niyo kaming respetuhin din.’”
Catch all the upcoming UAAP action on One Sports and the UAAP Varsity Channel on Cignal TV.