Eric unfazed by Bulldogs poor start

MANILA, Philippines - National University coach Eric Altamirano said the Bulldogs remain positive despite digging themselves a 0-3 hole at the start of the UAAP Season 78 men's basketball tourney.

"Hangga't meron pang games, may pag-asa (We still have games to play so we're not losing hope)," said Altamirano, whose wards conceded successive setbacks to La Salle (63-67), University of the East (71-76) and Ateneo (70-74) to fall into the cellar.

The string of losses gave titleholder NU added pressure to strike back in their succeeding assignments in the first round, beginning with the duel with unbeaten leader University of Santo Tomas on Saturday.

"We just have to continue, to remain steadfast, focus on what we're doing and never waver; just continue to work hard and good things will come out of it," said Altamirano.

The Bulldogs squandered a three-point lead in the last 16.7 seconds of regulation and a two-point cushion going to the final 16 seconds of the first overtime and allowed the Eagles to draw level. And with Alfred Aroga already fouled out, AdMU big man Chibueze Ikeh threw his weight around the NU frontliners and powered Ateneo to its first win over NU since 2012.

"I told the boys just like any other losses, we have to move on. Don't dwell on this game, focus on the next game on Saturday against UST," he said.

Altamirano said if it's consolation, the Bulldogs are starting to show more teeth defensively.

"I think there's a big improvement on defense. It's just that it's really hard to play without Alfred, we were outrebounded and we didn't get the calls today," Altamirano said, ruing the disparity in freethrows awarded- 43 for AdMU versus 16 for NU.

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