NATIONAL University’s last push to make it to the Final Four is driven by the team’s desire to have Matt Salem extend his final season with the Bulldogs.
Salem has been sidelined for a few games now as he recovers from dengue fever, but showed up in street clothes for the Bulldogs’ match against Far Eastern University and noticeably lost weight due to his illness.
The 24-year-old Salem, the team captain of the Bulldogs, will be playing in his final season just like JJay Alejandro, who said the team is inspired to extend the season for his fellow graduating teammate.
“Gusto pa namin makita si Matt Salem maglaro sa Final Four,” said Alejandro. “He is going to be ready in the Final Four. We will be playing with a lot of inspiration for our captain Matt.”
NU’s fortunes, however, is no longer in its hands. The Bulldogs must overcome University of the Philippines on Saturday, and hope that Far Eastern University drops its last elimination round match against Adamson in order to force a playoff for the No. 4 seed.
With their Final Four hopes hanging in the balance, Alejandro said the Bulldogs came to play like there is no tomorrow.
“Going into the game, ‘yun talaga ‘yung nasa isip ko. If we lose, I don’t have a chance to play in the Final Four,” said Alejandro.
Prior to missing two games, Salem averaged 8.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals, and made 18 triples, the second-most behind Alejandro in the Bulldogs.
“We have to win for captain Matt. Ang iniisip namin, last year na niya tapos nagka-dengue pa siya. Gusto namin siya mabigyan ng chance na makalaro,” said Alejandro.