IT WAS a long road to the UAAP high school boys basketball championship for Nazareth School of National University.
“Definitely ‘yung mental kasi we’ve been practicing since April. Na-prolong ‘yung league natin because of the coronavirus,” said Bullpups coach Goldwin Monteverde.
NSNU finally got a much-deserved rest after capping a dominant 16-0 season with a Finals sweep of Far Eastern University-Diliman last March 9.
The Bullpups joined several tournaments during the build-up to the season - the NBTC, MMBL and PSSBC, which is sandwiched between the UAAP first and second round.
“We have to sustain ‘yung focus, sustain ‘yung energy namin para throughout the whole year,” said Monteverde.
Currently one of the brightest young coaches, Monteverde had had to juggle two hats since December. He was recently appointed to take over the recently-struggling Bulldogs program.
It meant that Monteverde had to train two different squads on a daily basis, but it did not affect how he trained the Bullpups.
“Sa training naman, ‘di naman siya ganun ka-strict talaga. Gusto ni coach na every time na pumasok sa loob ng court, bibigay lang namin best namin no matter what happens. Or magkamali man kami, ano man mangyari, bigay namin best namin sa game man o sa training,” said guard Gerry Abadiano, who played his final year with NSNU.
“Sa court, minsan siyempre ‘di mo maiiwasan mapapagalitan ka. Minsan nagkakasamaan ng loob. Pero after that, parang tatay naman namin siya eh. Kung may problema kami, sa kanya rin kami lalapit. Kung may mga bagay kami ‘di maiintindihan, sa kanya rin kami lalapit,” said Abadiano’s batchmate Carl Tamayo.
“Wala naman kami dito naka-upo ngayon kung ‘di dahil kay coach.”
The future of Monteverde with the Bullpups remains hanging in the balance. NSNU, though, remains solid for the next season with Nat Tulabut and Echo Laure filling the void left by big boys Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao and Terrence Fortea playing his final year.
For the meantime, Monteverde, with the men's basketball team training on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, can now relax after another successful high school campaign.