After opening its UAAP campaign with a win, Season 81 hosts National University is in a bit of a slide after dropping its last two assignments this week.
That’s not ideal for a team teeming with talent.
On Saturday, however, that talent was rendered ineffective by an Ateneo squad bent on sending a statement. The defending champions demolished the Bulldogs, 72-46, marking the team’s worst loss under head coach Jamike Jarin.
With the Blue Eagles shutting all their guns, NU’s offense stalled and saw only 27.6 percent of its field goals hit the bottom of the net — a season-low so far.
After averaging 17.5 points in his first two games, star rookie Dave Ildefonso was held to just four points on 2-for-8 shooting. His brother Shaun also managed only four.
Enzo Joson led the team with 11 markers.
“You have to give credit to Ateneo because they know him personally, both the Ildefonso brothers. They did a great job defending them. That was their game plan: stop Dave (Ildefonso) and John Lloyd Clemente, even Shaun (Ildefonso) and Enzo (Joson) also,” Jarin said after the game.
He also noted that the team lacked the composure of a mature team down the stretch, owing to factors ranging from veteran Dave Yu’s injury and bad shot selection.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things. It didn’t help that Dave Yu got injured right away because he’s one of the real veterans of this team. Inexperience came into play,” the head coach said.
“We just got frustrated and all of a sudden, we took bad shot after bad shot after bad shot. We really need to fix that.”
He has nowhere else to go but forward, though, and Jarin knows that his players will shrug it off and use the dampening loss to grow as the season hums along.
“Every time you lose like this, you have to worry na hopefully this is just one game that you’d like to forget them eventually you will come out stronger. I believe with the way things are going, we just need to get up, bounce back, dust ourselves and get back to our winning ways.”
“These are young kids. They just need to learn and these are baby steps. Hopefully we’ll take a bigger step come Saturday.”
September 29 could indeed be the turning point that Jarin’s Bulldogs are looking for. Knocking off league leaders Adamson is a good place to start, after all.
“Right now we really need to refocus on the things that we did very well against UST and La Salle. In fact, that game against La Salle was winnable. Today, we just got outplayed and outworked. No excuses, I take the blame. Still got a long way to go,” Jarin lamented.
“We have to bring our A-game. We need to really share the ball, make their defense work. We can’t play isolation basketball against this team because they have the players to really guard our players,” he said of Adamson.