UAAP Basketball

Historic NU win over Ateneo crucial in foundation-building, says coach Napa

JR Isaga
Historic NU win over Ateneo crucial in foundation-building, says coach Napa

BREAKTHROUGH. The NU Bulldogs celebrate an upset win over the Ateneo Blue Eagles.


The NU Bulldogs look to continue strengthening their foundation and regain their spot among the UAAP's top contenders after a historic win against the Ateneo Blue Eagles

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time in six years, the NU Bulldogs defeated the Ateneo Blue Eagles in UAAP men’s basketball off a 78-74 thriller on Wednesday, November 2 – snapping a streak that stretched on to 10 games from Seasons 79 to 85.

It was yet another masterful showcase of coaching chess as Jeff Napa exacted revenge on Tab Baldwin about a month after Ateneo handed NU a sound 77-60 beatdown in the first round.

Now that the Bulldogs have defeated both Season 84 finalists in the Blue Eagles and eventual champion UP Fighting Maroons in their quest to Season 85 Final Four contention, Napa is confident that his wards’ latest win will not only strengthen their current campaign, but their future ones as well.”

“In order to become big-time players, they are the ones who need to finish games, not me,” he said in Filipino. “Ateneo already has a strong foundation and we needed to strengthen ours as well.

“I’m like the construction mason that mixes the guys together to complement one another so our walls will be sturdy,” he added. “All those years where the foundation was lost, that’s what we’re trying to build back up, that culture, so that we’d have no regrets in the end.”

So far in Season 85, that foundation mold has churned out rock-solid talent like Michael Malonzo, Jake Figueroa, Kean Baclaan, Steve Nash Enriquez, and most recently, Jolo Manansala, who erupted for a line of 17 points, 11 rebounds (7 offensive), 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks against Ateneo.

“I’m happy that these boys are stepping up to the challenge of stepping out of my shadow,” said Napa, one of NU’s top stars in his heyday. “Rest assured these guys will keep working hard until the end of the second round.”

“It’s not just that we’re trying to prove something. We need to impose our will, our names, and the university’s name on the UAAP map. We’ve been lying dormant for so long.” –

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