HE was in only his first game with National University since completing his two-year residency, yet Alfred Aroga wasted no time showing how integral he can be to the Bulldogs' title ambition.
The 6-foot-6 Cameroonian center had a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds in his first outing with the Bobby Ray Parks-led Bulldogs, who edged out the San Beda Red Lions in the opener of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup over the weekend.
Aroga was ecstatic after finally becoming part of the NU roster that will most likely be fielded in the coming UAAP men’s basketball tournament - a moment he had long waited for while completing the two years of residency required of foreign players.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for two years now,” the 21-year-old said.
The NU big man was not only dominant in the paint but also showed other facets of his game. In one play, he even pulled off a crossover move as he drove to the basket, and nearly dunked on San Beda center Kyle Pascual.
After playing several games with NU's Team B in minor leagues, Aroga said it was a thrill to play before a large, appreciative crowd.
“I want to thank the (fans) and this tournament. It’s kinda amazing. While playing, you see all the fans pushing for you. It gives you second energy,” said Aroga.
Coach Eric Altamirano said Aroga brings added depth to a Bulldogs’ frontline that already counts on fellow Africans Emmanuel Mbe and Henri Betayene, who both skipped the game against the Red Lions owing to injuries.
“You can see that he is very versatile, so he adds depth to the center position,” said Altamirano. “Sean (Mbe) is our key guy, he is our starter. But I’m very happy with how Alfred played.
"I think he played pretty well in front of a lot of people in a televised game.”
Aroga is actually giving NU a 'good’ problem in its buildup for the UAAP season. With three crack foreign players in their Filoil lineup, the Bulldogs will have to make a decision who to pick for the UAAP season since league rules limit schools to only two foreigners per season.
It's a decision Altamirano is not ready to make - for now.
“We will cross the bridge when we get there. Good thing that Alfred understands that it is his first year. As a team, we don’t mind who will play a lot of minutes,” Altamirano said.