MANILA – National University coach Jamike Jarin did not bother to hide his disappointment after the Bulldogs bowed out of UAAP Season 80 with a whimper.
With a potential Final 4 playoff at stake, the Bulldogs were thoroughly dismantled by the University of the Philippines, 106-81, on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum. The loss ensured that NU ended Jarin’s first season as coach with a 5-9 record, and that they missed the semifinals.
“I’ll be lying if (I said) I’m not disappointed, ‘di ba,” said Jarin, who left the San Beda Red Lions to take the helm at National U. “Not just me, but also the coaching staff, and the entire team.”
“I want to take full responsibility for not barging into the Final Four,” he also said. “Sabi nga nila, we were the dark horse. We were almost there. If you look at it, we were one game away from a playoff eh.”
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they simply had no answer for the Fighting Maroons on Sunday. Paul Desiderio torched them for 30 points, and rookie Juan Gomez de Liaño added 22 points of his own. Three other UP players scored in double-digits.
“We had our chances,” said Jarin. “But they just kept on piling and piling on the answers today.”
What makes Jarin all the more disappointed is that Sunday’s game marked the last time that their captains, Matt Salem and J-Jay Alejandro, will play in an NU uniform.
“How I wish that we could’ve been together a little longer,” said the coach.
There is a silver lining for National U. Though they missed the Final Four in Season 80, they should enter Season 81 as one of the better teams in the league thanks to a superb recruiting class.
“We’ve got some good talent coming in,” said Jarin, who counts former Mapua guard Darrell Menina, former Ateneo forward Shaun Ildefonso, and former NU Bullpup John Lloyd Clemente among his recruits.
“That’s the only thing that makes you really excited about – the talent that’s coming in,” he added.
Those talented players will join up-and-coming stars like Enzo Joson and Jonas Tibayan, as well as center Issa Gaye, to form what should be a fearsome National U squad next year.
“Hopefully come next year, I’m not a rookie in NU, they’re not rookies, and we’ll make a bigger noise coming into Season 81,” said Jarin. “Especially since we are the hosts.”
In the meantime, Jarin will take some time to dwell on their campaign in Season 80.
“Don’t get me wrong – I’m sad right now, of course,” he says. “But you have to look at the bigger picture.”
“I think there are better things to be happy, than to be sad. ‘Yung samahan niyo sa team? Hindi lang kayo naka-advance. Pero mayroon pa rin – maganda pa rin. It’s always the journey – and the journey was great, ‘d iba?” he added.
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