Nazareth School-National University Bullpups head coach Jeff Napa is one of the architects who has revived the once-stagnant National University juniors basketball program.
Prior to taking over the program, NSNU was almost always a certainty to be in the bottom of the standings, culminating with a 2-12 finish during the 72nd Season of the UAAP. The fortunes of the Sampaloc-based squad turned when Jeff Napa took over the helm.
After finishing in 7th place six years ago, the Bullpups improved to eight more wins during the 73rd season of the league and finished fourth in the tournament. A year later, the resurgence of the program was completed, as the Bullpups were able to upset the heavily-favored FEU Tamaraws in three games.
The Bullpups became a constant in the Finals picture of the tournament, with the squad having reached the Finals the last five years. Moreover, NSNU have won three of the last five Juniors crowns. The program has already produced a number of blue-chip recruits, including UE’s Philip Manalang and Jordan Sta. Ana, Ateneo’s Hubert Cani, and La Salle’s Mark Dyke just to name a few.
“He did the right thing, the right formula for recruitment and he got the right coaching staff,” National University board member Nilo Ocampo said about Napa. “Seeing other Bullpups in the other schools is a testament to his program. He’s doing the right thing.”
In addition, Napa is a part of Coach Altamirano’s staff that helped end the 60 year odyssey of the senior’s squad a year ago. “Dati player lang ako, hindi ko ineexpect na ganun ang mangyayari sa akin,” Napa reflected.
The Bullpups were able to defeat the De La Salle Zobel Junior Archers in three games capped by a masterful 96-85 victory to win the Bullpups’ third crown in the last five years.
After winning his third crown with the Bullpups, Napa admitted that he is in talks with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights for their vacant head coaching job. “Alam niyo na naman yun e. Nag-uusap pa lang kami (Letran Knights) pero ayoko munang isipin yun kasi gusto ko munang enjoyin ito.”
Napa knows that whatever his decision is regarding the Letran Knights’ offer, he has the support of National University. “Ever since sinuportahan ako ng pamilya ko and ng NU family ko,” he said. “Sila sir Hans (Sy), Sir Sergio (Yu, team manager), si Coach Eric (Altamirano), lahat ng nagiging desisyon ko sinasabi ko muna sa kanila. At kahit ano namang maging desisyon ko, alam ko magiging masaya sila para sa akin.”
“Pero hindi ko pa alam ano ang mangyayari.”
He also added that it is the dream of all coaches to have a chance to coach in the collegiate division and, later on, in the professional ranks. “Lahat naman ng coach pinapangarap na magcoach ng seniors e. Pero para sa akin, hindi naman ako nagmamadali. Nasa tamang pagkakataon lang yun, ayoko muna pressurin sarili ko.”
The officials of National University are hoping they can retain Napa if ever he accepts the Letran coaching job. “We’ll talk about it after this. I think there’s talks between them that he is being invited to coach Letran,” Ocampo said. “As long as he still focuses on our juniors program, it’s okay.”
When told about this, Napa said that he thinks he can balance the Knights and the Bullpups coaching jobs. “Oo naman, Superman ako e.”