National U playmaker Rev Diputado believes the Bulldogs should learn to how play aggressive consistently to prevent any meltdown.
The 5-foot-9 Diputado, 21, sounded relieve on Sunday night after the Bulldogs averted a big collapse against host University of Santo Tomas and settled for a 75-68 victory in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
NU got off to a swashbuckling start and led by as many as 25 points late in the third canto but still needed to survive a tense finish in the face of the Growling Tigers’ searing fightback in the final frame where the Bulldogs got outscored 6-19.
“Siguro ‘yun (fourth quarter play) ang kailangan naming i-improve. The past four games, doon kami nagkukulang,” said Diputado, who dished out an all-around performance of eight points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals against four errors in 25 minutes of play.
A proud Dumaguete City native, Diputado added the victory could serve as a perfect tonic for the Bulldogs, who stopped a two-game bleeding and improve their mark to 3-2, tying defending champion Far Eastern U, Ateneo and Adamson at second spot behind powerhouse La Salle (5-0).
“Napaka-imporante nu’ng game kanina kasi back-to-back losses kami,” he stressed. “Siguro natutunan namin the past games, ‘yung aggressiveness.”
If the Bulldogs intend to finish the game strong, they have to execute better and stay aggressive offensively, stressed Diputado, echoing the earlier statements made by NU coach Eric Altamirano.
“As coaches, kailangan namin i-address ‘yun,” said Altamirano. “Good thing we have a big lead coming into the fourth. In the coming games, we cannot afford to do that again.
Altamirano added he felt the Bulldogs played tight in the final frame.
“We knew UST’s gonna make a run. And when they made the run, I told them composure lang and to stick to the process. Problem is just like any young team, you get carried away and lose focus,” he noted. – By Jerome Lagunzad