MANILA, Philippines — National University guard Kean Baclaan got up on the right side of the bed.
That’s why the Bulldogs beating defending champion Ateneo on the opening day of UAAP Season 86 didn’t surprise him at all.
“Feel ko pa lang paggising ko kaninang umaga, mananalo na kami. Ganoon yun yung kumpiyansa na binibigay sa amin ni coach Jeff (Napa). Kaya, papunta dito sa game, di na yung defending champion sila. Ibang season na to. Season 86 na ‘to,” said Baclaan.
(I just knew as soon as I woke up that we were going to win. That’s the kind of confidence coach Jeff gives us. Going into this game, we don’t think about them (Ateneo) being the defending champions. This is a different season.)
Baclaan and the Bulldogs rode on the confidence given by their coach as they stunned the Blue Eagles, 77-64, on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“Siguro, isang buwan na kasi naming pinaghahandaan to so ready talaga kami. Sabi nga ni coach Jeff na hungry lang kami kapag makakalaban namin ang mga malalakas na team dito sa UAAP,” he said. “Nakaano kami ng big fish. Pero shift na kami ng focus sa next game.”
(We’ve been preparing for this game for a month so we were really ready. Like what coach Jeff said, we have to be hungry when playing the strong teams in the UAAP. We caught a big fish. But we have to shift our focus next game.)
The sophomore guard dished out eight assists on top of four points and four rebounds as NU unleashed a balanced attack, led by Patrick Yu and Steve Nash Enriquez.
“Siguro po, tumatama lang ang mga binibigay kong sitwasyon sa mga teammates ko so yun, naging maganda ang nangyari kaya naka-eight assists ako,” Baclaan said.
(I guess I was able to set my teammates up in the right situations that’s why it turned out well and I was able to have eight assists.)
Despite their big victory, NU coach Jeff Napa stressed that their season-opening win doesn’t guarantee anything, wanting his wards to remain hungry for their next games.
“We will continue pushing ourselves to the limit. We don’t want to look at what’s ahead, Right now, we have to take care of ourselves, one game at a time. We don’t look at what happened last season. We have a mission on our minds,” Napa said.
NU guns for its second win on Wednesday against Far Eastern University.