NATIONAL University coach Eric Altamirano admitted the loss of Cameroonian center Alfred Aroga was immediately felt by the Bulldogs in their heartbreaking defeat tot the University of the East Warriors on Saturday.
Altamirano said the team became undersized after the 6-foot-6 Aroga was deemed ineligible by the UAAP eligibility committee for failing to meet the required two-year residency for foreign players.
And it showed in the stats sheet as NU was outrebounded by UE, 42-49, including 15-27 at the offensive end. Warriors center Charles Mammie was also dominant inside with 20 rebounds, 13 of them coming off the offensive boards.
Emmanuel Mbe had 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs, but could have done more had Aroga been in the game when he was saddled with three fouls in the second half.
“We were outrebounded,” said Altamirano. “That was the story of the game. We needed Aroga badly. Lumiit kami bigla.”
Altamirano said he respects the decision of the eligibility committee, but admitted the development surprised the team.
“That caught us by surprise kasi we could have taken in another player for him. He is a vital part of the team so he is a big loss,” said the soft-spoken NU mentor.
Altamirano was confident the Bulldogs complied with the residency requirement of Aroga after being enrolled for four semesters with the school.
But the committee declared Aroga ineligible since based on his passport, he arrived in the country on September 2011.
“Matter of interpretation but I have to respect them. Although we felt confident that he met the requirement. But again, kanya-kanyang interpretation ‘yun,” said Altamirano.
The NU coach said there will be making adjustments on their play patterns now that Aroga is no longer part of the team.
“Siguro we have to make some adjustments in what we are doing. We got used to the having him in the preseason. We have to tweak it a little now knowing that he won’t be here anymore,” said Altamirano.