Maroons' victory gives NU coach Eric Altamirano a reason to smile despite Bulldogs setback
NU coach Eric Altamirano was a member of the only UP Maroons team to win a UAAP championship back in 1986. Jerome Ascano

THE 71-62 loss of National University to Far Eastern University on Saturday night was a bitter pill to swallow for Bulldogs coach Eric Altamirano.

Yet he still has a reason to smile at the end of the UAAP doubleheader at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Although licking the wounds after the Bulldogs’ loss to the Tamaraws that saw them trail by as many as 42-22 early on, Altamirano found solace in the fact that his alma mater University of the Philippines finally ended a two-year drought by defeating Adamson, 77-64, in the first game.

It was the first ever win for the Maroons since beating University of the East, 63-48, last August 19, 2012, or a stretch spanning  27-games.

“I'm happy for UP for getting that win,” said Altamirano.

Altamirano said NU can relate to UP's woes. The Bulldogs used to share the cellar with the Maroons before he took over the Bulldogs' program in January of 2011, with backing from the Sys of the SM mall chain.

“It was so frustrating to lose many games, consecutive pa. NU used to be there, 'di ba? So we feel for them, I feel for them because I'm from UP, so I'm really happy for the win.”

The Maroons later celebrated the victory with a bonfire inside the Diliman campus.

“I hope that it (bonfire) will fire up the players, the community,” said Altamirano, who played for the Maroons from 1983 to 1987 and was part of the only UP team to win the UAAP men’s basketball title in 1986.

As for the Bulldogs Altamirano said he hopes the team will extract something positive out of their setback against the Tamaraws, which snapped a three-game win streak.

“I hope we learned a lesson in this game,” he said. “Hindi kami pwedeng magbigay ng 20-point lead (sa kalaban). Giving up 42 (points to FEU) in the first half, that's too much.”

“We were able to get back to our game in the third (quarter) kaya lang mahirap na. It's hard to come back from a big lead. We just need to learn from that, and get back in the second round,” he added.

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