NOTHING beats having a 'padrino.'
PBA greats Atoy Co and Danny Ildefonso credited the rise of National University as a collegiate power to the entry of the father and son tandem of Henry and Hans Sy of the famed SM Group of Companies.
Both Co and Ildefonso were at ringside on Wednesday when the fighting Bulldogs forged a rubber match against Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the UAAP Finals following a 62-47 win in Game Two.
Co said the entry of the Sy family, who took over the school ownership in 2008, was definitely the game changer for NU, which moved on the brink of ending its 60-year title drought after leveling the best-of-three title series at 1-1.
“Kasi kaya ganoon katagal (na hindi sila contender) kasi walang support, but for the past years NU was bought by SM,” Co told Spin.ph.
“Nagkaroon ng support, nagkaroon ng funding, may mga na-recruit and they got a good coach. That's why everybody's talking about them kasi nagkaroon sila ng basketball program,” he added.
“May padrino na sila (NU), ang Ateneo may padrino, ang La Salle may padrino, ang San Beda may padrino. Pag ikaw magaling ka na player at inofferan ka nila syempre doon ka na pupunta,” said Co, who coaches the Mapua Cardinals in the NCAA.
Ildefonso, the former King Bulldog, shared the same sentiment.
“Kung mas napaaga ang (dating ni) Hans Sy sa NU nakapag-champion kami, kumpleto kami noon eh, parang ganito rin kami dati pero kulang kami sa budget,” said the two-time PBA MVP.
Ildefonso played for NU from 1993-1997 and had for teammates the likes of Chito Manabat and Lordy Tugade although the Bulldogs failed to make the Final Four during that stretch.