MANILA — National University lost their last two games of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament, and it led to them failing to secure a Top 2 spot heading into the Final Four.
The Bulldogs suffered setbacks against the Adamson Soaring Falcons and the UP Fighting Maroons which resulted in them falling to 10-4.
Instead of being equipped with a semis incentive, they will come into the semifinals as the third seed and will be battling the streaking De La Salle Green Archers. La Salle not only holds a twice-to-beat advantage, but has also won its last eight games.
NU mentor Jeff Napa took all the blame for these setbacks, saying that it was his fault that they weren’t able to close in on their last pair of Round 2 matchups.
“Siyempre very frustrating yung last two stretch ng games namin, it didn't favor us,” he told the media during post-game. “It's my fault, it's my responsibility. I take full responsibility sa dalawa na yun.”
Napa did not offer his players’ injuries as excuses, but the Northport Batang Pier assistant coach said that those indeed factored in their shortcomings.
“Actually si [Steve] Nash [Enriquez] medyo hindi pa [okay] talaga,” bared Napa. “Nakita niyo naman medyo maga pa yung pisngi. He tried his best pero merong impact pa rin talaga ‘yung [injury], even Kenshin [Padrones]. Pero ayokong mag-dwell kung ano man yung nangyari sa amin na yun eh.”
The former Letran Knights coach then added that he and his team did not become complacent about their previous spot at the nos. 1 and 2 positions, saying that they simply were not able to perform to their best during their last two games.
“Hindi yun sa pagiging complacent eh. It's all about pa ‘rin sa performance. Yun nga, if you want to be a contender talaga, to be called a superstar, kailangan itaas mo yung level mo,” he stressed.
“Ako rin, kailangan itaas ko ‘rin yung level ng thinking ko. Yun yung hinahanap ko na quality na makita ko sa players ko. Hopefully, makita ko talaga.”
For him, what they need to do now is shift their focus on facing La Salle and hope for his squad to be as healthy as possible.
“We need to move forward. We need to prepare against La Salle on Saturday. ‘Yun yung something to look forward to, consolation para sa amin.”
Napa added that they are taking this as an opportunity to prove themselves and show that they are indeed among the league’s top contenders.
“Hopefully, ma-turn things around. Medyo malaking obstacle, so hopefully, talagang maging healthy na talaga mga players ko para at least maging maganda ‘rin talaga yung magiging laban,” he said.
“Ang pep talk ko sa kanila, do the impossible thing, and we will see kung ano yung magiging result coming on Saturday.”