MANILA– As the losses pile up for National University (NU) in UAAP Season 82, head coach Jamike Jarin can only express his pride for the fighting spirit and heart being shown by the Bulldogs.
National U absorbed its fourth loss in a row on Wednesday afternoon, as their last-ditch rally against University of the Philippines (UP) fell just short. They bowed 80-79 to the Fighting Maroons after John Lloyd Clemente's game-winning attempt at the buzzer did not even hit the rim.
This is already the third time this season that NU lost by a solitary point. Their four defeats have come by an average margin of four points.
"I wasn't mad, I can't get mad. You've seen us, how we do things. We're just, we're dead, we come back. We play hard. And I'm sure everybody, except for the fans of UP, was rooting for us," Jarin said after the game.
"And wala ka nang mahihiling sa mga bata. Win or lose, you have to be proud. You have to be proud of these young men," he added.
Jarin was especially proud of NU's decision-making in the end game. They had a chance to steal the win in the final seconds after David Murrell bricked two free throws, and they put the ball in Dave Ildefonso's hands. Ildefonso had already scored 25 points, and sank the three-pointer that trimmed the deficit to one point.
But he was also well covered by three UP players, and so elected to pass to John Lloyd Clemente who was open beyond the arc. Clemente took one dribble before putting up a jumper, enough to give UP's JD Tungcab time to bother his shot.
The sophomore missed, and the Bulldogs were despondent at the buzzer after another narrow defeat.
"The thing is, what I told the boys right after the game, I was just proud of how Dave Ildefonso gave up the pass to an open John Lloyd Clemente," said Jarin. "Unfortunately, he was covered pretty well on the recovery, and buo naman loob niya, he took the shot."
"It just didn't go in. Those are the things that you have to be proud of, sa mga players. Making the right decision, tapos John Lloyd Clemente, na buo 'yung loob niya, not half-hearted. Whole-heartedly, took the shot, he took the responsibility," he added.
As painful as their losses are, Jarin believes these will toughen up the Bulldogs for future games and for life in general.
"You know, in the next 20 years of your life, you would look at this season. You would look at this season, and no matter what you will encounter in your lives, you will be ready. Because you will overcome all this pain," he said.
"You will get better. That's why I'm really proud of them," he added.
Still, Jarin knows that they need a breakthrough victory sooner rather than later. With just three games left in their first-round schedule, the Bulldogs remain the only team in the league without a victory.
He hopes that will come on Sunday, when they take on the defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles – the only unbeaten team in the league.
"I'm sure Coach Tab Baldwin will be doing his homework, and I'm sure he's gonna tell his boys, this NU team is not a pushover," said Jarin.
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