PIPO Noundou was greatly pleased as after facing off with his old college side as his team Family Mart-Enderun battled Seaoil-FEU in the 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup last week.
"That was good feeling. When you face the people that made you who you are today, you want to show them what you became. You want to show them that they made you a leader and he can lead against you now," said Noundou, Tamaraws import from 2009 to 2011.
"That was a good feeling. It was like a dream come true," he said. "We never thought we can play FEU in a bigger stage like the D-League because they're in the UAAP. Playing in the D-League for us is a blessing. So I was telling our players we don't take this for granted because it's a very rare opportunity, to have this exposure to play those big programs."
"So far as to me, it's just a blessing. Playing FEU is more than a blessing."
Although the Titans fell to the Extreme Racers, 99-82, Noundou's crew put up quite a fight.
And even Seaoil-FEU coach Olsen Racela commended the efforts of Family Mart-Enderun in this hard-fought game.
"Enderun is a disciplined team and they have a good coach in Pipo. They really helped us with the way they played," the PBA great said.
Those praises, to Noundou, is another triumph in itself.
"This is a big victory for Enderun," he said. "If you know our motto in Enderun, it's more about building pride, and we always talk about one victory at a time. If you see our practice uniform, we put there one victory at the time. So we've been having many victories. Playing at this level is another victory. Going against FEU, and thank you for coach Olsen if he said we are good team, that's another victory."
Noundou, however, is far from content as he hopes that his side improves. After shooting 17-of-35 from the field and scoring 52 points in the first half, the Titans were limited to a measly 9-of-30 clip, good for only 30 points against Seaoil-FEU's 51 second half production.
"To beat them, you have to play 40 minutes. But we played only 30 minutes this game. It showed that this game, they're still on a different level, but we're there," he said. "We still have to grow. We still have to improve to get better, work extra hard, to be able to play games like this for 40 minutes."
Still, it's an outing Noundou thinks his crew can build on.
"Playing like that against FEU, it proves that we belong. Now, we have to keep going," he said. "This is just the first game, so we have to keep getting better. And the goal is the playoffs, so if we make it, it's truly a sign that we belong and we are one of the best program in the country."
"That's why we're here, to prove to people that we can compete against the best programs in the country. We want to earn their respect. We know some people are already giving us the respect, but we want the respect to be a total respect from everybody."