MANILA — Jose Rizal University showed poise and composure in their season-opening win against Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
After failing to capitalize in regulation as Deo Cuajao drilled a game-saving trey that sent the game to overtime, the Heavy Bombers kept their foot on the pedal in OT to fend off the Muralla-based squad.
For JRU head coach Louie Gonzales, this win speaks about the new-found character that his team has coming to this season, especially after failing to enter the Final Four last year.
“Setting the tone. It’s for us to set the tone on our first game,” Gonzales said after the game.
“Yung na-witness natin is yung bench namin right now. That’s one thing na tinrabaho namin during the offseason. We wanted to be unpredictable in terms of player usage.”
Last year, the Heavy Bombers finished the eliminations with a 7-11 win-loss record, with most of their defeats coming from second-half blunders as they failed to hold on to their advantage.
But for Gonzales, this season will paint a different story as he believes anyone from their team can step up anytime to hold the fort for the Mandaluyong-based institution.
“Kahit sino pwede pumutok anytime,” he asserted.
“We’re really struggling, especially shooting from the outside all throughout [earlier], good thing [Shawn] Argente stepped up. Crucial talaga yung mga three-points niya,” the coach pointed out.
“Eto yung mga players ko right now. Lumabas yung kanilang chemistry, lumabas yung tiwala nila sa isa’t isa. Nandun na rin yung maturity.”
But for this to continue, he wants his squad to be consistent with their efforts and sacrifices, especially since they are gunning to finally enter the upper echelon of the NCAA once again.
“Kasi if you want to win, kailangan mo unahin yung team at yung ginagawa ng team, kung ano ba yung pinaghihirapan ng team,” he said.
“[Earlier], they stuck to what we do best. Yung ball movement, kilos kami ng kilos, and we want the pace ng game, na kami yung nauuna.”