The NU Bulldogs suffered another heartbreaking one-point loss on Wednesday, this time at the hands of the UP Fighting Maroons.
The Bulldogs could have easily reversed their current 0-4 record. They were one basket away from clinching a win in all four games. But they fell short by a solitary point against Adamson and La Salle before succumbing to an 87-74 overtime loss to UST last Sunday.
NU coach Jamike Jarin remains proud of his young players despite their winless start to the season.
"We're 0-4, but hey, it's a game of basketball. Somebody has to lose," said Jarin. "The teams that we fought, they can't say, 'you're just lucky that you got close.' I think they would say, 'hey you gave us a real scare and you guys deserve to win as much as we do.'"
More than threatening to snatch wins from top contenders, Jamike likes the kind of resilience and decision-making that he saw from his players in the endgame.
"I'm really proud of them. I wasn't mad. I can't get mad. You've seen us how we do things," said Jarin. "We're dead, we come back, we play hard. You can't ask for more from the kids. Win or lose, you have to be proud of these young men."
Down by one against UP in the dying seconds, Dave Ildefonso opted to pass the ball to John Lloyd Clemente instead of forcing a basket against three defenders. Clemente, in turn, did not hesitate to take the potential game-winning jumper. Unfortunately for NU, the shot did not go in.
"Those are the things that you have to be proud about the players, making the right decision," said Jarin. "Then JLC was also confident, not half-hearted. He wholeheartedly took the shot, he took the responsibility, and those are the things you mentor these young men."
Ildefonso shared that his team still had a "positive aura" after their fourth straight loss because they know for a fact that they fought hard and gave their best.
"We just fell short in the end. Maybe we really need a perfect game from start to finish," said Ildefonso. "We have to believe that we can win. I'm not saying that we don't believe we can win, but we will no longer think that a loss is an option. We should have a sense of urgency."
Jarin trusts that the Bulldogs will continue to improve as the season progresses. They just need to stick together and help each other shine.
"I don't have a crystal ball to look into the future. All I know is I have to continue coaching these young men on and off the court," said Jarin. "I'll go to battle any time with these young men because you know they have your back and they know I have their back. That's what life is. It's being together and making your teammate, friend, and companion to become better."
NU's character will be put to another tough test when they face the undefeated Ateneo on Sunday.
"I'm sure coach Tab Baldwin will be doing his homework. I'm sure he's going to tell his boys that this NU team is not a pushover," said Jarin.