UAAP: NU heeds coach's halftime words in big win vs. UST

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 07 2022 04:35 PM

National University coach Jeff Napa. UAAP Media.
National University coach Jeff Napa. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- "'Wag niyo ng alamin kung ano sinabi ko sa loob ng dugout."

This was how National University (NU) coach Jeff Napa responded when asked about his message to his players at the halftime break of their game against University of Santo Tomas (UST) on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Bulldogs were up by just four points, 35-31, at the break, much to the displeasure of Napa and the NU coaching staff. They stayed inside their dugout longer than usual, to the point that the arena barker repeatedly pressed the buzzer to get them to come out for the second half.

Whatever Napa said to his players, it worked. NU completely dominated the third quarter, overwhelming UST, 25-9. Team captain Shaun Ildefonso scored all 10 of his points in the frame, single-handedly out-scoring the Growling Tigers.

"We weren't really happy doon sa first half namin. Sobrang lamya namin. Hindi kami ganoon eh. But, alam mo, coming into the halftime, iniisip lang namin na, nasabi na lahat ni coach," said Ildefonso.

"Kailangan, we need to act upon it, correct namin mga mistakes namin. And good thing, coming into the second half, we played good basketball," he added.

The Bulldogs went on to win the game handily, 82-51. The Growling Tigers scored just 20 points in the second half of the contest.

Although he refused to expound on what was said at the dugout, Napa did say that he just wanted to "wake up" his players after what he felt was a poor first-half.

"Ginising ko lang 'yung mga players ko coming into the second half. Sobrang mababa kasi 'yung aggressiveness namin. Nakita namin na hindi ganoon 'yung how we play eh," said the coach.

"Siguro, malaking factor talaga 'yung andiyan 'yung pamilya ng mga players eh. So, gustong magpakita agad, eh hindi kami 'yung ganoon. Hindi sila 'yung ganoon," he added. "Kasi, ang game nila, kusang dumarating na lang eh."

Napa said he was willing to risk a technical foul for delaying the game because of his lengthy halftime message.

"At least, ma-address ko kung ano 'yung kailangan kong i-address sa kanila," he said. "Nakita niyo naman 'yung result."

"Coming to the end game, naging fully alive talaga sila kaya naging maganda resulta para sa amin," he added.

The Bulldogs are now 3-3 heading into their final game of the first round on Saturday against University of the East.

"We have to move forward. We have a game still on Saturday, so there's no time to celebrate, kasi may kailangan pa kaming tapusing trabaho," said Napa.