FOR Eric Altamirano, there was no other way to explain it but say it's the Bulldogs' destiny.
His National University Bulldogs were supposed to go into overtime against Far Eastern University last September 2, only for the referees to intervene and count a controversial RR Garcia basket by using as basis video replays of the play which the league board later ruled as "inconclusive."
When the board-mandated replay finally took place on Sunday, the two teams, as fate would have it, did go into overtime, which saw the Bulldogs wipe out an early six-point deficit and post an 84-81 victory behind a slew of clutch baskets by main man Bobby Ray Parks.
"There is a purpose for everything and, true enough, it happened,” Altamirano said, waxing poetic after the Bulldogs reached the UAAP Final Four for the first time since 2001.
After the Bulldogs lost the September 2 match, 75-77, they put the game under protest on the grounds that replays of the Garcia play didn't conclusively establish that the basket beat the buzzer. But Altamirano admitted the team didn't expect the protest to prosper.
“We didn’t expect the game to be re-played in all honesty,” Altamirano said.
When the board upheld the protest and ordered the rematch, the Bulldogs were determined not to let the new lease on life go to waste, Altamirano said.
”Since they gave [the replay] to us, huwag nating sayangin ito," the coach recalled telling his boys. “Our battlecry actually for this game is, let’s not waste the opportunity,”
The Bulldogs now face second-seed University of Santo Tomas in the Final Four, with the Tigers holding a twice-to-beat advantage. But Altamirano said he expects the win over the Tamaraws will give the Bulldogs enough momentum entering the playoffs.
“We will use this game as an inspiration for our Final Four game,” said the soft-spoken NU coach.