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Wanted: Tougher, more focused NU
Anthony Divinagracia, Thursday, December 08, 2011.
Manila, Philippines - No one dared to interrupt him.
“Makinig ulit” was the recurring order of the moment for a throng of players forming a semi-circle in front of National University (NU) coach Francis Vicente.
Away from that quite corner inside the NU gym where Vicente gathered his wards in a huddle, one would suspect a discussion of tactics going on.
But not quite.
“Students first. Athletes second,” Vicente reminds the Lady Bulldogs. “Mag-aral ng mabuti. Hindi lang kayo dapat sa volleyball mag-excel.”
For Vicente, that and everything in between appears secondary. And he bothers to explain why.
“They have to study not only to play but to graduate,” the second year mentor says. “The school has given them enough scholarship to study. In return they should study well, be a student first before an athlete.”
The fiery mentor, who led NU to a respectable fifth-place finish last season, sure knows where he is coming from.
“Pinagdaanan ko rin naman yan e, I’m an athlete before. Ako naglalakad ng sarili kong grade para pumasa.”
Underscoring his point, Vicente adds: “Hindi ko sila ilalakad para lang pumasa. Hindi kasi ako sanay sa ganung sistema.”
Such premium for academic discipline is expected for a coach who has mapped out a grander objective for a revitalized NU, first by ridding the team of its “participation” mentality.
“We have to change the impression na ang NU tambakan lang na mga anu (bagsak) yan. Sa ngayon, yun ang ginagawa ko para mabago lahat ng impression na yun,” he says.
“More than participating, we must be competitive in many ways, both in academics and in extra-curricular activities.”
And one such extra-curricular activity Vicente wants the Lady Bulldogs to make ripples is on this season’s volleyball tournament.
“We want to be in the Top 4. No. 5 na kami last year, everybody is expecting us to be in the Top 4.
Doing so however means beating the tougher squads ahead of them last season. The Lady Bulldogs’ body language in practice underscores their readiness to accomplish this erstwhile Herculean task.
“I know kaya namin mag-Top 4, makikita mo naman na kaya kasi during training iba yung galaw nila, unlike before. Sa tingin ko kaya na namin talunin yung mga dapat talunin kahit yung maturity nila sa 75 percent pa lang,” Vicente notes.
“It’s a matter of attitude lang yan e.”
To hone its attitude on the court, NU went through a more rigorous training program which includes plyometrics, skils analysis, and correction of movements.
Like other teams, the Lady Bulldogs also joined off-season tournaments notably the National Open and the University Games and “other events where we can evaluate their capacity as players”, Vicente says.
During the National Open, NU beat Far Eastern University (FEU) before losing to defending UAAP champion De La Salle University in five sets, given a line-up handicapped by the absence of some key players. In the UniGames, the Lady Bulldogs reached the quarterfinals along with University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo de Manila University and FEU.
“We focused on balancing our offense and defense. We also developed our jump serving kaya wala na sa kanila ang nag-standing serve land.”
More than renewed confidence, NU has also fortified its UAAP-bound line-up with the acquisition of tall and athletic players.
“We are tall. The average height is 5’10”. The smallest is around 5’4”, yung libero,” Vicente says. “Kahit papaano nakahanap kami ng isang maayos na setter (a rookie) kasi last year yun and diperensya.”
He also acquired another open hitter in 2010 Palarong Pambansa mainstay Myla Pablo, who underscored her debut by scoring in double figures in NU’s 25-6, 25-14, 25-18 victory against the University of the Philippines. The 17-year-old Pablo collected 11 hits to finish behind Maricar Nepomuceno and Railen Sante.
Does NU have a star player?
“No,” Vicente replies. “I always tell the players to rely on each other, walang first six, walang superstar. Lahat sila nakasandal sa isa’t isa.”
Tougher road ahead
Coaching-wise, Vicente appeared to be a little tougher this, but for good reasons.
“Magsesermon pa rin tayo. Hindi kasi ako yung coach na tatahimik lang (kahit) nagkakamali na yung player, he says. “Although iniisip nila its very discouraging para sa mga players pero kailan mo pa itatama yun, kung kailan talo ka na, kung kailan tapos na?
“Baka pagsisihan mo na di mo sila ginulat, na kailangan pala gumising kami galit na si coach, parang ganun.”
Vicente’s hard-nosed coaching was in full display when the Lady Bulldogs lost a 24-26, 25-21, 25-27, 25-16, 15-5 nail-biter to University of the East (UE) before being outclassed by De La Salle University, 25-21, 25-13, 25-7, yesterday.
He admitted that the Lady Bulldogs lost their focus on both games when UE made a huge comeback and after La Salle displayed its full power. Repeatedly, Vicente scolded his wards for committing unforced errors caused by miscommunication and questionable decision-making.
“I want to be tougher now kasi mas gusto ko mas tumaas pa yung level of play nila,” he says. “I maybe tough pero yung style ko ‘pag nagalit ako kailangang towards winning and improving their attitude pa rin.”
With two straight losses, it’s now back to the drawing board for Vicente and company.
Vicente prefers something better.
Excited na kami makita si Urdas.... Kasinggaling din ba sya ni Pablo? Palagay ko mas mahusay na ang kanilang setter ngayon... Hope na maimprove ni Din2 ang kanyang blocking don kc sya mahina.... May makapagbibigay ba dito ng complete list ng NU-WVT for S75? papost naman....
Possible Line up nila this season:
a rookie libero from palaro
not sure if babalik pa rin si Simon
Sana itry nila yung ganitong rotation:
Open-Pablo and Singh (sub Aganon/Mandapat)
Middle-Nepomuceno and Santiago (sub Dadang)
Utility-Urdas (sub Marzan)
Setter-Perez (sub Salibad)
IMHO may chance sila makapasok sa Final4
Akala ko ba power hitter si Urdas bakit utility position nya? Ibig bang sabihin mas malakas pumalo si Singh? Hindi ba middle blocker position nito opposite ni Din2? Di ba 6 footer din yon?
for me mas ok to
sub open: Urdas
Dindin is an effective utility
based sa last performance nya
sa SVL S9C1, at least mas mamamaximize
yung height nya sa blockings
Cai and Pablo naman e subok na sa Open
malaki tiwala ko kay Pablo, She is a power hitter
ang deep din pala ng bench nila ha
Magaling kasi magblock itong si Urdas kaya sya nilagay ni Coach Francis sa Utility, ok din sa Pablo sa blocking pero di marunong magset itong si Pablo. kaya malamang, si Cai at Urdas ang magpapalitan sa utility position.
Si Singh pala ay di pa maglalaro sa college. Highschool pa lang pala sya. Ewan ko kasi yun ang sabi saken ni Andrea Marzan nung nakachat ko sya.
Si Singh ay kaheight lang ni Banaticla. Malakas pumalo.
Sa Thursday may tune up ang NU against Phil. Army. Try ko magvideo pag pwede manuod.
I asked coach Francis kahapon, sabi nya, ang ita-try nya kadiagonal ni Dindin ay si Marzan.
Ang problema kc ng NU nakasentro ang opensa kay Dindin na pagnabantayan eh bulusok kaagad ang performance nila, wala bang pwedeng mabigay ng tip dyan kay coach na baguhin na nya yong style nya. gayahin nya style ng coach ng DLSU na distributed properly ang opensa at lahat ng nasa loob kayang pumatay ng bola. Puro kc Din2 kahit lawit na dila nong isa kapapalo don parin niya ibinibigay ang bola katwiran mataas ang porsyento ng atake sus kung pinagtutuonan ba naman nya ng husto ang attacking form nitong sila Dadang, Marzan at yong iba pa eh di may katulong sina Din2, Cai at Pablo na maitaas ang kalidad ng laro nila tsk tsk
The only time NU and Adamson met in the preseason was during the V-League last summer. Apparently, even though Adamson had Nene Bautista and Keng Serafica, NU still defeated them in 3 exciting sets, even using their Season 76 line-up (minus Aiko Urdas). It was also in that league where Dindin Santiago’s game evolved and became one of the best players not only in college but also in the country. Dindin Santiago scored like 30 points in that game even though it was only played in 3 sets. Imagine that! (Note: Sorry, I am a diehard fan of Dindin Santiago so forgive my being bias towards her! Hahaha)
NU vs Adamson
I must say, compared to the previous years, this is probably NU’s strongest line-up ever. I’m not sure, but I think they have the best collegiate player in their line-up. Dindin Santiago can bully her way against any team and be the Kim Yeon Koung for NU. However, good thing for her, she has the likes of the much-improved Myla Pablo, veteran Cai Nepomuceno and super rookie Aiko Urdas. I also forgot to mention that they have the best libero in Jen Reyes. So yeah, they do have a strong line-up this year. It all depends on the setter now how she will wobble her spikers. But then, even if they just rely on Dindin Santiago, I they will be able to survive. Based from what I saw, Dindin Santiago’s spikes and serves are very hard to receive, block or dig. Her power just got more amazing as well as her leaping ability. I gotta say, her back row attacks will be NU’s main weapon this year.
Adamson still has a formidable team. I guess if not for the injuries of Macatuno and Vasquez, they could have gone to the third place last year. But like I said, they do have an intact team this year. They will be fielding in almost the same line-up and even with a very good addition of an offensive option in Amanda Villanueva. They have very good middles in Pau Soriano and Faye Guevarra (even Erika Alkuino is good!) as well as wingers in Sheila Pineda, Amanda Villanueva and Mayette Zapanta. Of course, Adamson’s main weapon is their floor defense so this will pretty much keep them in the competition.
I’m pretty sure this will be a very good game to see. I think both teams are Final Four contenders and that they do have what it takes to give us a very good and down the wire game. I don’t see any advantages nor disadvantages for either teams.
Prediction: 5 sets, can go either way
NU spikers raring to strike back
MANILA, Philippines - With Dindin Santiago and Jen Reyes back in the fold, National University hopes to strike back in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament, which begins next month at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs missed the Final Four last season but are upbeat of their chances to reach the semis this time and hopefully contend for the crown.
"We hope we can do well in Season 75. The players have worked hard in training. Last year we didn't fare well, but this time, we are confident and we hope we can improve in our standing," said coach Francis Vicente.
"The school management and our manager have been all-out in their support for us, and that has been a big factor," he added.
The upcoming season marks the much-awaited return of the 6-foot-1 Santiago in college volley play.
A known scorer in the Shakey's V-League first conference last summer, Santiago has already served her two-year residency to play for NU.
Vicente believes that Santiago, who added her deadly backrow attacks in her vast arsenal, will improve her game further.
"I know she can still raise the level of her game," said Vicente on his prized player.
A multi-awarded libero, Reyes will be a big help especially on the Lady Bulldogs' floor defense.
Santiago and Reyes had joined forces for NU in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament last August.
Backing up Santiago and Reyes are Cai Nepomuceno and Myla Pablo and setter Ivy Perez will take care of the playmaking chores.
Junel Baculi, NU's athletic director, said that the school's focus in their athletic program is not only in basketball. "We have set our goals in improving our other sports teams as well, including our campaign in volleyball."
NU begins its campaign against Adamson at 2 p.m. on Dec. 1. National University is hosting this year’s volleyball competitions.
With Santiago in tow, Lady Bulldogs finally hope to howl loud
They have been looking forward to this for three years now. And now that the Season 75 of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament is upon them, the National University Lady Bulldogs can assure one thing: they will go out every game fighting hard to the end.
“For every game, we will play the best that we can para hangga’t maari manalo kami,” said coach Franz Vicente in an exclusive interview with UAAPSports.TV.
Season 74 was a major disappointment, with the spikers from Sampaloc sliding to seventh place, only able to beat winless University of the Philippines for a 2-12 record after placing fifth in 2010.
For a lot of times last year, the Lady Bulldogs looked lost as their atrocious floor defense and setting failing to set their offensive attacks into motion.
They have licked their wounds, and with the return of two stalwarts and the entry of yet another Palarong Pambansa scoring machine, Season 75 sure looks bright for NU.
“Every game is a lesson. Every year is a lesson,” added Vicente, who is in his third year coaching the squad. “The core of the team is still intact, but yung approach nila sa game is very different from last year. We learned a lot.”
Dindin Santiago, probably the most talented collegiate player in the country today, suits up for the Blue and Gold in the UAAP for the first time, two seasons after her remarkable year with University of Santo Tomas.
And unlike in her tour with the Golden Tigresses, Santiago will be expected to do heavy lifting for the Lady Bulldogs this time --- a fact seen by fans in the Shakey’s V-League, when the six-foot-one middle hitter took the scoring chores almost each time out.
“Siya yung main man,” Vicente said of her prized ward. “She’s supposed to be playing 99% of the game. The rest will help dun sa 1%.”
By “the rest,” Vicente is talking about his rotation that will also consist of the returning Jen Reyes, the Season 73 Best Digger who sat out last year for this run to the crown.
Also helping out are veterans Cai Nepomuceno, who carried the offensive load last year, Mina Aganon, Myla Pablo, Desiree Dadang and left-handed setter Ivy Perez, to whom Vicente is pinning his hopes on orchestrating NU’s attack.
“I can say she has improved by about 80%,” the mentor shared about Perez, who struggled mightily late last season after replacing the inconsistent Kuki Salibad in the starting group. “Yung organization niya sa loob ay okay na.”
Pangasinan’s Aiko Sweet Urdas, the rookie who torched the opposition in the Palarong Pambansa for many years, will come off the bench for the Lady Bulldogs with Salibad, Andrea Marzan and freshmen Bea and Ina General.
“I cannot say na malakas yung team. I cannot say rin naman na mahina yung team,” Vicente, who doesn’t want to forecast a Final Four stint for the fear of jinxing it, said. “I can just say na lalaban yung team.”
NU hopes to open the tournament with a bang on December 1, when they lock horns with Adamson University. For Vicente, who’s celebrating his birthday on that date, there is only one gift he could be happy about.
“Lagi nilang binabanggit na ‘happy birthday,’” he shared. “Di ko alam kung ano birthday gift nila. Basta ako, I will coach the best that I can.”
Judging from his words, Dindin Santiago and crew know what to do.
Naku coach baguhin mo style mo wag mong ipapasan lahat kay Dindin pagnagkataon 7th place na naman kayo... Pihadong lahat ng team ay aabangan at babantayan ng tudo yang si Dindin kaya dapat gamitin mo lahat yang mga attacker mo...
kaya nga e, medyo di din ako sang ayaon sa sinabi ni coach na 99% ipagkakatiwala niya kay dindin and yung 1% sa iba? Ano yun Robot!!!
Nasabi ko nga kay Coach Francis yan eh. Nagtaka sya na may sinulat na ganyan eh wala naman daw sya sinabi na 99% ay maggagaling kay dindin.