NO doubt, National University carved out the most memorable story of 2014 in local sports.
After 60 long years of waiting, the Bulldogs were finally hailed champions once again after capturing the UAAP men’s basketball title in Season 77 at the expense of a talented Far Eastern University side.
For the past six decades, the school had to endure years of being ridiculed as the perennial doormats of a league it once reigned back in 1954 when it won its first ever varsity championship.
But behind a steadfast build-up that began when the institution came under the ownership of the SM Group of Companies, the Bulldogs, under the guidance of coach Eric Altamirano, slowly rose to mediocrity and become the proud champions that they are today.
Readily recognizing what the long-maligned Bulldogs had just achieved, the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) deemed to hand out the President’s Award to the entire NU team during its Annual Awards Night co-presented by MILO and San Miguel Beer on Feb. 16 at the 1Esplanade Mall of Asia Complex.
Past personalities honored with the President’s Award during the gala dinner with Meralco, Smart, and MVP Sports Foundation as principal sponsors and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as major sponsor include the Ateneo Blue Eagles, the Philippine women’s bowling trio, former world champions Rubilen Amit, Dennis Orcollo, and Lee Van Corteza, taekwondo jin Mikaela Calamba, among others.
The Bulldogs will share centerstage with BMX rider Daniel Caluag, whose gold medal feat in the Incheon Asian Games earned him the nod as the 2014 Athlete of the Year during the award ceremony also presented by Globalport, Air21, National University, Accel, Maynilad, PBA, PCSO, Rain or Shine, ICTSI, PAGCOR, and El Jose Catering.
In winning the title that was long in coming, the Bulldogs did it in style.
They all won five do-or-die games, including the championship-clinching match against the Tamaraws, 75-59, on October 15 that was played before a record crowd of 25,118 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum
Also to be honored by the country’s oldest media organization at 66 years are major awardees Donnie Nietes, San Mig Coffee team, Gabriel Luis Moreno, Michael Christian Martinez, San Beda Red Lions, June Mar Fajardo, Kiefer Ravena, Mark Galedo, Daniella Uy, Mikee Charlene Suede, Jessie Aligaga, Jean Claude Saclag, Philippine dragon boat team, Philippine poomsae team (male under 30), Philippine poomsae team (freestyle), Kid Molave, and Jonathan Hernandez.
Already included in the PSA honor roll list are the 1973 Philippine men’s basketball team (Lifetime Achievement Award), Tim Cone (Excellence in Basketball), Mitsubishi (Hall of Fame), Alyssa Valdez (Ms Volleyball), Jean Pierre Sabido (Mr. Taekwondo), and Pirncess Superal and Tony Lascuna (Golfers of the Year).