ALFRED Aroga heads a bunch of National University training team members who are set to be elevated to the Bulldogs squad in the next UAAP season after the departure of several top players including the team's biggest star, Bobby Ray Parks.
NU coach Eric Altamirano said the Bulldogs will be relying a lot on its deep pool to make up for the loss of key players from the Season 76 squad that ended in first place at the end of the elimination round before bowing out in the Final Four.
“We are back to square one,” Altamirano admitted.
Altamirano rattled off names from the NU’s Team B squad that could be possible replacements, a few of them familiar names including Aroga who was supposed to play for the Bulldogs last season after being one of the vital pieces in NU’s preseason campaign with his size and agility.
But the Cameroonian was withdrawn from the UAAP team at the last minute after it was learned that he had yet to complete the two-year residency required of foreigners last year.
Another Cameroonian, Henri Betayene, could make a return to Team A after seeing action for the Bulldogs in 2012.
Former NU Bullpups Ralf Atangan and Reggie Morido, national youth team pool member Dave Yu, and former seniors member Reden Celda could also be elevated from Team B, according to Altamirano.
Because of this, the NU coach is bracing for a busy summer to get the new players more acquainted to the college game.
“There is a lot of teaching and kailangan talaga ng experience kaya we need to play a lot of games this summer para mabigyan ng exposure ’yung mga players,” he said.
So far, San Beda Red Cub Rev Diputado is the only high school graduate that has officially committed to the Bulldogs.
“Nag-eensayo na siya every Saturdays,” Altamirano said, referring to Diputado.
Parks is the most prominent NU player absent from the Bulldogs' lineup next year as he has decided to pursue "career opportunities" in the United States after winning two league MVP crowns.
Also gone for the Bulldogs are Emmanuel Mbe, Denice Villamor, Robin Roño, Mark De Guzman, and Mark Porter who have all finished their eligibility with the team.
Aside from these players’ departure, NU was also hit with injuries to two players.
Jeff Javillonar will miss the entire Season 77 after suffering an ACL tear, while Tristan Perez is also facing the prospect of sitting out the season due to a sports hernia although NU is still seeking a second opinion on his injury.
“We lost seven to eight players kaya baka kukuha na kami from our Team B,” said Altamirano.