WITH how newly crowned UAAP women’s basketball champion National University Lady Bulldogs have been able to build their team, even the coach of arch-rival Dela Salle Lady Archers believes the sky is the limit for the F. Jhocson-based squad.
So impressed was La Salle coach Tyronne Bautista with the NU roster that he claimed making its stars the core of the still-to-be formed Perlas Pilipinas national team for next year's Southeast Asian Games is not a bad idea.
“I think that can even be an option for NU. It (opportunity to beef up national team) will be a blast for them,” said Bautista, the 2013 UAAP champion coach.
“Considering the lineup they have right now, they have three to four players who are worthy to play for the national team. Atleast three ha,” he added.
Bautista tipped UAAP MVP Efril Bernardino, Gemma Miranda, Shelly Gupilan and Andrea Tongco among the top players of the team backed by the SM group of companies.
Aside from the four, Lady Bulldogs can also count on reigning UAAP Rookie of the Year Ria Napalan, Trixie Antiquera and Kristine Abriam.
“Mabigat talaga ang roster nila. Solid yan, mahirap talaga i-match yan,” said Bautista.
Bautista said La Salle’s own rebuilding is meant to keep up with the Lady Bulldogs, who recruited players from the Palarong Pambansa starting from the time businessman-sportsman Dioceldo Sy took over as team manager in 2011.
“Right now, I am trying to go big to match the ceiling na meron ang NU. I think even the other teams are looking at it, how to compete against NU. We all should, otherwise they (NU) will just breeze through everybody,” added Bautista.
Even Bautista’s former point guard Camille Ramos expressed concern at what lies ahead for La Salle in the UAAP women’s war.
“I think they (NU) can dominate pa longer, they really can compete, the team is complete and they’ll maintain an intact lineup,” said the daughter of former Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos.
Ramos said she wasn’t surprised to see the Lady Bulldogs dominate last season.
“From how they started recruiting, I already saw this coming. They are really bound to become champions. We’re lucky to have spoiled them last year. But right now, they’re at it,” said Ramos, a member of the Lady Archers' champion team in 2013.
But for Bautista, trying to match up with NU is a tall order.
“Oo, isa sa pinakamabigat 'yan in the next two years. They will be intact for the next two years. So we expect them to be the dominant team for the next two seasons,” he said.
“That’s a challenge for us to stop them now. Sila ang barometer namin ngayon kung paano naming bubuuin ang team namin. What’s scary about this, may experience na sila being in the championship and being a champion. Big factor yun eh,” added Bautista.
Meanwhile, Sy said he is ready to make the members of the team available for the national pool. The Ever Bilena big boss used to be the chief supporter of the Careline Team Pilipinas women’s basketball team.
The Lady Bulldogs are expected to return to training camp shortly after returning from a three-day tour of Phuket, Thailand - a treat by SM big boss Herbert Sy.