NU 'humbled' after securing twice-to-beat edge
MANILA, Philippines – The National University (NU) Bulldogs are left feeling “humbled” after securing a twice-to-beat advantage in the semi-finals for the first time since the UAAP implemented the Final Four format.
Led by two-time league Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks, the Bulldogs notched a 70-65 win over the defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles on Wednesday to finish the elimination round with a 10-4 record and, more importantly, clinch a twice-to-beat edge in the Final Four.
“We’re very humbled by this victory. This is the first time we’re in this position,” said NU head coach Eric Altamirano, who last season brought the Bulldogs back to the Final Four after a 10-year absence.
“I told the players before the game, ‘Guys, we lost a tough game against La Salle.’ And yeah, we felt bad about it, but after the game, we found out that we’re still No. 1,” Altamirano said, referring to their 55-57 setback against the Green Archers last week.
“Coming into this game, we still had an opportunity to get the twice-to-beat. So sabi ko, let’s thank God for it, and let’s take advantage of the opportunity, kasi bihira lang ‘yun na magkaroon ka ng second chance to try to get the twice-to-beat position,” he added.
As much as the Bulldogs relish the twice-to-beat edge, Altamirano stressed that they have yet to achieve their goal for the season.
“We’re humbled by that, but then again, hindi pa tapos ang misyon namin, ‘yung goal namin,” he said. “We have a great shot of going to the Finals, so we just want to stay humble and hungry, and make sure that we stay focused.”
It is not yet clear if the Bulldogs will be the first or second seed in the Final Four, as the final seedings will likely be determined at the end of the elimination round next Wednesday.
But for Altamirano, all that matters is that they have already secured the twice-to-beat bonus.
“Hindi naman kami mapili,” he said. “Okay lang ‘yun. Kasi lahat naman ng papasok (sa Final Four) magagaling eh. Again, we just have to take advantage of this opportunity, and make full use of the twice-to-beat to get into the Finals.”
The Bulldogs can secure the top seed if the La Salle defeats the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on Saturday. That scenario will create a three-way tie for first, but NU will get the No. 1 spot by virtue of their higher quotient.
If La Salle loses, however, the Bulldogs will wind up in second place, with the Far Eastern University Tamaraws taking the top seed.