NU center Alfred Aroga fights through back injury
MANILA, Philippines - About midway through the fourth quarter of National University’s game against University of the East, NU Bulldogs center Alfred Aroga attacked the defense of Charles Mammie as his team stared at a two-point deficit.
Aroga didn't convert the basket, but drew the foul on the UE big man. However, right after the game official's whistle made noise, Aroga was slowly crunching to the ground with an agonizing look on his face. Moments later, he was holding his back, which was clearly in discomfort.
"Actually, I don't want to have like an excuse though," Aroga said after his team’s defeat to UE on Sunday, August 31.
"The game against Ateneo (on August 24), I had this back injury," he recalled. "Like I fell on my back. So during my practice, this week, it was really painful. I was trying to do some exercises to lessen the pain but I couldn't really take it."
Aroga finished with just three points and struggled on defense all throughout the contest against Mammie, who finished with a season-high 22 markers to go with 10 rebounds as the Red Warriors kept their Final Four hopes alive without the benched Roi Sumang.
NU lost by nine, 64-55, after putting up just 15 points in the first half.
"Charles Mammie was really good inside. I think they were more focused and they wanted the game more than we wanted," Aroga complimented UE, which also got steady contributions from Gino Jumao-as, Chris Javier, and Paul Varilla, who all registered eight points each.
"Actually, UE was doing great. They were really focused. They really needed this game," he added, referring to the Red Warriors' do-or-die situation for a Final Four seed entering Sunday's game.
Aroga says that he tried his best to fight through the injury, though was still limited.
"When I started warming up, the pain goes a little bit, but at a certain point it really goes really painful. But I had to play with it."
With their loss to UE, National U now falls to 7-4, good for fourth place in the league standings, while UE is not far behind at fifth place with a 6-5 win-loss clip.
The Bulldogs will get an opportunity to bounce back from their defeat to the Red Warriors on Sunday, September 7, when they take on the struggling 1-10 UP Fighting Maroons at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
However, despite UP's lackluster play, coming out with the win may be a challenge for NU if Aroga's back doesn't heal soon.
"I don't know. I'm really feeling bad. I can take the pain sometimes but actually I'm really feeling bad," Aroga mentioned when asked whether or not he feels he will be able to suit up against University of the Philippines.
"Hopefully I'm going to play the next game. If not, I don't know. I think the doctor's going to tell me exactly what I have," he added, also mentioning he will get further information on the extent of his injury later today, Monday, September 1. - Rappler.com