As Nazareth School of NU closes in on its 3rd UAAP juniors basketball championship in the last 4 years, a familiar face offered support for the school he once led to back-to-back titles.
Hubert Cani, who led the Bullpups to an elimination-round sweep before winning the crown — and the Finals MVP plum — in Season 76, said he is raring to see his alma mater wrap up the finals series in Game 3.
Armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage, NU dominated La Salle-Zobel in Game 1 before seeing its bench falter in a surprising Game 2 loss last week.
“Syempre dun ako galing,” Cani said when asked if he follows the UAAP juniors title series. “Nakausap ko nga si coach Jeff (Napa) before Game 2.”
The burly point guard, who now plays for Ateneo in the seniors division, joked he might have jinxed the Bullpups in that game.
“Parang na-bad luck kasi kinausap ko siya e,” he shared, laughing. “Sabi ko kay coach, o ma-sweep niyo na naman. Tapos natalo.”
Cani said he specifically talks to NU playmaker Dan Atienza, who had a sordid outing in Game 2 and finished with 2 points, 4 assists and 6 turnovers.
“Lagi kong kinakausap si Atienza, yung point guard ng juniors ngayon,” he said. “Lagi ko siyang pinagsasabihan kung ano yung mali niya, kung ano yung kailangan niyang gawin. Kailangan niya ng guide.”
The Bullpups could finish off the Junior Archers on Friday, in what could also be coach Jeff Napa’s final game with the program he has nurtured the past half-decade.
Napa, who was a star NU gunner in college, has been linked to the head-coaching job of defending NCAA champion Letran, something he said he isn’t paying attention to right now.
Nonetheless, if rumors are rife, Cani urged his coach to take the plunge.
“Masaya ako para sa kanya kasi lahat ng mga coaches sa high school gusto maging coach sa college,” he said. “Parang dream come true din yun. So sana grab niya ng opportunity na yun. Minsan lang mapunta sa kanya yun.” — By Josiah Albelda