Season 77 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament was like no other for the National University Bulldogs.
They were coming from a fourth place finish in season 76, following a third place finish the year before.
In the 11 seasons before that, the Bulldogs never reached the Final Four, and were dead last in some years. But, things changed when Altamirano came aboard from 2011 to 2016, and handled a talented and motivated bunch of players.
“Syempre heartbreaker sa amin yung Season 76. Lahat talaga masama loob and then knowing na hindi na babalik si Bobby Ray and we lost some players also,” said Altamirano when he recalled the Bulldogs’ best season, which was their historical title conquest in 2014.
Altamirano talked about the Bulldogs campaign during a weekly podcast hosted by Kiefer Ravena.
That year, one of their key players Bobby Ray Parks was not coming back.
“Parang we wanted to erase that in our minds eh. We wanted to focus on the new season, move forward. Then parang somehow, we knew how to approach the next season dahil doon sa nangyari sa amin sa Season 76,” said Altamirano.
On October 14, 2014, the long wait was finally over for National University, who made an effort to start strong and ended up finishing even stronger as they turned back Far Eastern University, 75-59, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Alfred Aroga asserted his height and might all throughout Game 3 of their best-of-three finals series.
His big game helped end the NU Bulldog’s 60-year title drought.
“So talagang para bang clean slate kami lahat. Yung mga players namin, out to prove something. Lahat yan, lahat lahat sila eager sila to prove themselves. I mean siguro nobody would say that but they wanted to prove na this is not a Bobby Ray Parks team. This is NU,” said Altamirano.
For Altamirano, this is his second UAAP championship. His first was as a cager of the University of the Philippines Maroons, where he was the Finals MVP way back in 1987.
“Ang maganda naman sa team na yun, lahat ng naiwan talagang capable of really helping the team get the championship,” said Altamirano.