NU's Alfred Aroga (19) blocks the attempt of Adamson's Ivan Villanueva (14). Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – National University (NU) head coach Eric Altamirano is not making a big deal of the Bulldogs' current status as the top team in the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament.
The Bulldogs currently have the best win-loss record in the league at 4-1 following their 62-25 demolition of the Adamson Falcons on Wednesday. They have been impressive even without stars Ray Parks and Emmanuel Mbe, thanks in part to their league-best defense.
Their lone loss of the season came at the hands of defending champions De La Salle University, and it was a close game that could have gone either way until the final minutes.
Yet even after assuming the top spot, Altamirano said: "Being number one, you cannot rest on that."
"The season is very unpredictable," he pointed out. "You can go one, then you can go seven in the span of two games."
"What's important is you have to be consistent every game, you have to approach it like it's your last game."
Still, Altamirano was full of praise for his players for their focus against Adamson, a lower tier team that nevertheless showed flashes of potential in their previous game against the University of Santo Tomas.
"Ang message namin sa team was we cannot take this team lightly, we cannot overlook anybody," said Altamirano. "We were really focused on making sure na hindi maka-bwelo ang Adamson."
The coach believes it is a sign of his players' developing maturity.
"Nakita ko 'yung body language nila, even before the game, talagang they were very focused," he said. "Hopefully, that's the start of our maturity as a team, of our character."
"Sabi ko nga, 'yung character hindi naman nabi-build when you are losing, also when you are winning," Altamirano added.
Although the win over Adamson was certainly impressive, Altamirano wants his players to forget about it quickly, especially as they will next have to tackle the always dangerous and unpredictable University of the East (UE).
"We want to move forward," Altamirano said. "We want to focus on our next game against UE. We want to forget about this game. Tapos na 'yan. We have two remaining games in the first round, and we want to focus on that."