No one envisioned coming into this season that NU will have a rough 0-2 start. No one predicted that in their last outing against the underdog UE Red Warriors, the Bulldogs would suffer another setback in their title defense. If you have Gelo Alolino, Jjay Alejandro, Pao Javelona and Alfred Aroga in your roster, things should do well according to the game plan. Offensively, Alolino should carry the load and provide steady playmaking at the point. The sweet-shooting Alejandro should contribute right away for Coach Eric Altamirano. Javelona, the good looking guy with the charisma of former Ateneo Blue Eagle Chris Tiu, should make things happen when their offense is in disarray. Aroga, the beast who is off to a sluggish start, should dominate inside the paint. In their last two games, the Cameroonian import only averaged nine points though he hauled down 12 rebounds, Aroga must come to this game with the monster game mentality to finally give NU its first win this season.

Beat Ateneo.

Very simple to say but always a daunting task to do. Should they stop Kiefer Ravena which is almost impossible, the Bulldogs will have a legitimate shot in getting their first taste of victory. “The Phenom” put up PBA-caliber numbers in their past two games averaging 24.5 points. Also, in their game against Adamson, Ravena got some help from his teammates. Aaron Black, son of former PBA import and now Meralco Bolts coach Norman Black, poured 11 markers in just 17 minutes. Von Pessumal ignited a 11-3 run during the third quarter courtesy of his seven straight points that pulled away against the gutsy Falcons.

Offense, offense, offense.

For the second straight game, Alolino led the Bulldogs in terms of scoring. The fifth-year guard almost carried the torch for his team. The loss of Troy Rosario and Glen Khobuntin looked like a bigger hole for the team’s offense. Besides Alolino, the defending champs could not find any contributors from their players to cure their stagnant offense.

Defense, defense, defense.

Maybe the loudest chants of defense from the NU community should be heard against the Katipunan-based squad. After holding their opponents to 57.4 points per game from last season, the Eric Altamarino-mentored squad is giving up a dismal 71.5 per game after two outings. If this team can’t rediscover their defensive mentality this season, expect a long season for NU and probably down the road, the way to another Final Four appearance will come to an end.