MANILA — Despite being victorious against Ateneo de Manila University, National University mentor Jeff Napa is not moved by their win against the defending champions.
“Itong panalo na ‘to, it doesn’t mean guaranteed magfa-Final Four kami,” he said, following their win on Saturday at the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
According to him, they did not do anything special against the Blue Eagles and have just treated them like how they will be treating their next assignments throughout the eliminations.
“We don’t care kung sino yung kalaban namin. As long as laruin namin the right way, we will find ways kahit anong mangyari para mapunta samin yung sitwasyon,” he said.
This means, in addition, that they will not be banking that much on their Final Four appearance last season, and instead will be focused on bettering themselves to have the chance to exceed it.
“Still, we will continue pushing ourselves to the limit. We will challenge ourselves para makita na we are performing,” the former Letran head coach said.
“Yun ang mindset namin. Ayaw naming tignan agad kung ano man yung ahead in the future. Right now, we should take care of ourselves muna one game at a time. We don’t need to look back on what happened last season. Ngayon nasa utak muna namin kung anong mission namin, pero secret muna yun.”
This, alongside NU’s off-season preparations, resulted in his players being equipped with the much-needed confidence that they need, just like how star guard Kean Baclaan was confident about how they will do well against the Season 85 titlist.
“Pag gising ko pa lang kaninang umaga, alam ko nang mananalo kami,” he said.
“Ganun yung kumpyansa na binibigay samin ni Coach Jeff. Kaya papunta dito sa game, ‘di namin iniisip na defending champions sila. Ibang season na ‘to eh, Season 86 na to.”
But above this, what Napa wants for his squad is to not only have the confidence to go head-to-head with the UAAP’s best squads but also have the maturity that will help them rise above everyone else even more.
“Siguro natuto na ‘rin yung mga bata regarding their maturity. They are more focused to learn dun sa maturity aspects. Yun yung pinakahihintay namin, and eventually maging benefit for us. “