UAAP S77 Preview: National University Bulldogs
Season 76 record: 10-4 (1st seed)
Season 76 recap:
The NU Bulldogs were considered to be among the top contenders when Season 76 started, thanks to a strong line-up that featured two-time UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks Jr. Losing import Alfred Aroga right before the start of the tournament was a big blow, and the team initially struggled, starting 3-3. A six-game winning streak helped them clinch the top spot at the end of the eliminations, but as in the previous season, they were shocked by the UST Growling Tigers in the Final Four, who overcame a twice-to-beat disadvantage to make it to the Finals for the second straight year.
Losses: Bobby Ray Parks, Emmanuel Mbe, Robin Roño, Jeoff Javillonar, Dennice VIllamor, Mark de Guzman, Cedric Labing-isa, Maurice Porter
Holdovers: Troy Rosario, Gelo Alolino, Glenn Khobuntin, JJ Alejandro, Kyle Neypes, Paolo Javelona, Tristan Perez
Acquisitions: Alfred Aroga, Henri Betayene, Reden Celda, Rev Diputado, Raph Atangan, Dave Yu, JP Cauilan, Mohammed Salim, Ralph Tansingco
Season 77 Projection:
It will be an interesting year for the NU Bulldogs, who lost their best offensive and defensive players in Ray Parks and Emmanuel Mbe, but also other key contributors to last year’s campaign, including guard Robin Roño and forward Jeoff Javillonar.
Head coach Eric Altamirano has made no secret that they will have to make big adjustments this year, as they can no longer rely on a single player – Parks – to generate their offense. He believes that it will take a “collective effort” for NU to be competitive this year, but sees this as a challenge towards their goal of building a more “unpredictable” team this season.
Without Parks and Mbe, the Bulldogs will look to players like Troy Rosario – who had some bright moments last season – and even unheralded guys like Glenn Khobuntin and Kyle Neypes to step up on offense. Point guard Gelo Alolino may have to take on more of the scoring load as well. Alfred Aroga and NU’s returning foreign player Henri Betayene are also expected to make an immediate impact.
It may take some time before the Bulldogs can re-establish themselves as a top contender, although it also won’t be a surprise to see them slay a few giants this season thanks to the unpredictability of their line-up.
Quote: “Maganda talaga ‘yung support ng management, and we have a good set of players, very promising. Again, you have to start from the beginning after losing all these players, but maganda naman. Maganda ang turnover namin, and we have promising players, so I think maganda ang continuity ng program.” – NU head coach Eric Altamirano