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Bulldogs motivated to give recovering Matt Salem longer run

The National University Bulldogs — through the heroics of Jjay Alejandro, Enzo Joson, and Issa Gaye —kept their post-season hopes alive on Wednesday afternoon after overcoming the hot-shooting Far Eastern University Tamaraws.

But besides their goal of getting a crack at at least a playoff, the team was extra motivated to win it for one of their team captains.

“Going to the game, yun talaga yung iniisip ko, gusto namin makita pa si Matt Salem maglaro so he’s gonna be ready in the Final Four. We’re playing with a lot of inspiration for our captain Matt,” said Alejandro, who finished the game with 17 points, six rebounds, and nine assists.

Salem missed NU’s last two games due to a battle with dengue fever. During those two games, the Bulldogs greatly missed the 9.3 point and 7.3 rebound average of Salem, as they lost both games.

But once Salem heard about what his teammates had said about him, he could not help but be emotional.

“It’s just a blessing. I’m blessed with having great teammates. They are really young but they really care for each other. We all care for each other,” said Salem, who transferred to NU back in 2015.

“When they just told me and the coaches told me that they want to do it for me, it really touched me.”

True enough, with their team captain in mind, Alejandro — with the rest of the Bulldogs — was able to lift the Bulldogs past the Tamaraws.UAAP-80-Mens-Basketball-FEU-NU-Alejandro-3945 Bulldogs motivated to give recovering Matt Salem longer run Basketball News NU UAAP  - philippine sports news

“Well I have to win it for captain Matt. Kasi kung inisip namin last year na nya [Salem] tapos ganun pa nangyari, na-dengue siya. Gusto namin siyang bigyan ng chance na makalaro,” Alejandro added.

“Ayaw namin na ga-graduate siya na hindi siya makakapaglaro.”

But today, even with just less than a minute on the court and still not completely recovered, Salem tried to chip in to extend his squad’s season.

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“I told Coach [Jamike Jarin] that whenever they think they needed me, I’m there for him and I’m gonna do my best whether it’s a second, whether it’s a few minutes, whether it’s the whole game, whether it’s nothing honestly. When I went I just wanna do my role, which was to shoot the ball. And I shot but it wasn’t the best shot,” he said, pertaining to his three point shot attempt during the end of the second quarter that unfortunately only hit the board.

“But I shot the ball but hopefully that inspired my teammates that even though I’m under condition like what the doctors say, I’m able to still give a bit to the team and a 100 percent at what I do.”

And Salem plans to be ready for NU and the Bulldogs, and hopefully extend his UAAP career.

“A lot of things can go different ways but we’re just gonna focus on our next game which is UP. We’re just gonna go on our next game together with 16 strong and the coaching staff and do our best,” the Filipino-American big man asserted.

Now with a complete cast and a highly motivated team, the Bulldogs are seeking to make a fierce run to book the last ticket to the Final Four.

Written By

Danine is a graduating Broadcast Communication student who writes about basketball and volleyball in between her classes. Initially just a sports fan mostly influenced by her fanatic dad, she eventually realized that she can make a career out of her passion after her amazing internship with Tiebreaker Times

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