Heartbroken NCR looks towards future after second Palaro hoops loss
LAGUNA, Philippines- Saturday's Palarong Pambansa basketball finale was déja vu for the National Capital Region's secondary basketball team.
What happened in the 2013 Palarong Pambansa secondary hoops battle in Dumaguete City seemed to have repeated itself in this year’s edition of the tournament as NCR fell to the home team Calabarzon in the Boys Secondary Basketball category, 86-80, at the Laguna Sports Complex, Saturday, May 10.
The moment was reminiscent of last year’s heartbreaking loss to host region Central Visayas.
Clearly, the boys of Coach Jeff Napa didn’t see the loss coming and were caught off guard by Calabarzon’s strength, will, hustle, and overwhelming homecourt advantage combined all together.
The NCR cagers struggled early in the game as the Calabarzon squad’s tight defense limited them their scoring.
Coach Napa admitted that the opposition overpowered them and it was too late when they pulled it all together for a comeback.
“Hindi namin ineexpect. Medyo nawala kami sa focus nung first half kaya malaki yung tinrabaho namin nung second half,” explained the NU Bullpups Head Coach who debuted in handling the region’s basketball team this year.
(We didn’t expect this. We lost focus during the first half that’s why we had to give a lot of work in the second.)
The squad, which is mostly composed of the National University Bullpups and NCR’s finest from Mapua, University of Sto. Tomas and Xavier High School, easily cleared their road to the finals but found their foil in Calabarzon’s team, which is made up primarily of the San Beda Red Cubs.
“Hats off syempre sa Calabarzon dahil binigyan kami ng magandang laban,” said Napa.
(Hats off to Calabarzon for giving us a good game.)
The NCR mentor also added that the focal point of this loss is his team’s lack of hustle and determination to win.
Playing against the hometown is always a disadvantage, as the crowd’s cheers and jeers can unnerve a visiting squad, particularly in clutch moments.
“Syempre ibang klase kapag sa homecourt ka naglalaro. Iba ‘yung impact. Iba ‘yung kompiyansa ng mga bata.” Napa told Rappler.
(Of course it is a great advantage when you play at your homecourt. The impact’s different and it tremendously affects the confidence of the kids.)
The back-to-back UAAP Juniors Champion Coach shared that it is nothing different playing against San Beda here at Palaro compared to other leagues in Manila, but added that it is the homecourt advantage that made all the difference.
Falling short again
Although it is a different team who represented NCR in last year’s Palarong Pambansa, Napa still finds it very disappointing to be settling for something less than the gold.
“Of course it is very sad because our main goal is to win the championship,” He said. “We really wanted to win the crown for NCR.”
More than the drive they got from playing in front of families, friends, and supporters at their home region, Calabarzon leaned to a heart that craves for a top podium finish.
“It was their hardwork and determination that made them win. It was obvious in the game that they wanted the championship more than we do,” said NCR skipper Jarrel Lim.
The incoming UP Fighting Maroons Rookie added that they weren’t prepared to handle the other squad’s game plan and they weren’t able to do anything about it.
Despite the loss, NCR looks forward to coming back next year with a vengeance. That maybe, they’ll succeed the third time around. - Rappler.com