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UAAP: Bulldogs target Final Four

By Jerome Lagunzad

With less than two months to go before the start of UAAP men’s basketball tournament, National University apparently created some buzz recently as rumors of reigning two-time NCAA MVP Allwell Oraeme transferring to the Bulldogs’ camp spread like wildfire.

But new NU coach Jamike Jarin denied it as quickly as he was when he bolted out of San Beda campus after leading the Red Lions back to the NCAA throne last year.

Jamike Jarin“We don’t have Allwell Oraeme,” he said in a phone interview yesterday. “As far as I know, he’s still with Mapua.”

Instead of focusing on things that he could not control, Jarin, 47, admitted he’s giving more attention on developing the Bulldogs into one cohesive unit since he has inherited a “very intact, disciplined, dedicated and determined lineup” that his predecessor, one-time UAAP champion coach Eric Altamirano, left behind.

Foremost among the Bulldogs who have been giving Jarin such big promise is 6-foot-9 Senegalese center Issa Gaye who is making sustained development – thanks to the guidance of his assistants, former PBA stars Danny Ildefonso and John Ferriols.

NU should also have enough firepower to make up for the loss of 2014 Finals MVP Alfred Aroga due to graduation, with blue-chip recruit Jonas Tibayan from Chiang Kai Shek, former Ateneo Blue Eaglet guard Enzo Joson and ex-PH youth team member Joshua Flores set to make their entry.

Towering Matthew Aquino should be ready to go after being forced to sit out due to eligibility issues last year while returnees JJ Alejandro, Matt Salem, Reggie Morido and the Diputado brothers – Rev and Cham – are expected to make ample contributions.

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