There were multiple subplots in the game between the De La Salle University Green Archers and National University Bulldogs, one of which was players such as Prince Rivero, Justine Baltazar and Matt Salem playing for their former schools.
Out of those three players, it was Salem who stole the show over forty minutes of basketball. The former Green Archer led the Bulldogs with 15 points and 9 rebounds in what was the duel of the UAAP Season 79 Men’s Basketball Tournament’s undefeated teams at the Araneta Coliseum.
Even though the Green Archers had won the game 75-66 over the Bulldogs courtesy of a fourth quarter comeback, Salem showed the NU community that he will be one of the players to be counted upon this season.
“Tough game. We expected that. We knew it was gonna be like that the whole game.
“We had some collapses here and there and this game is over. We’re gonna learn from it. We can’t worry about it now. It’s over. We have to move on to the next game,” the 23-year-old shared.
There are players who feel the need to prove something to their former teams. Not Salem, though, and it was all business for him on the floor.
“They’re my former team and they’re also my friends so it’s just another game.
“I’m gonna go out there and do my role, give all the glory to God, play for Him, do my best and try to help the team out, stick to my role and not try to do anything too much,” the 6’4″ stretch big man added.
Salem was calm about the result and to him it was all about the Bulldogs learning from their mistakes.
“We got the fourth quarter coming into, we’re only by nine in the third,” Salem said. “What we got to do is to take care of what we got to do in the next game so know what our roles are, just execute next time and not have as many collapses as possible.”
On an individual note, Salem has noticeably shed weight compared to his La Salle days. The forward has publicized his CrossFit endeavors and added that there is also another regiment he strictly follows.
“We got a great strength and conditioning coach. We’re on a strict program, strict eating diet but we got to do our role and do what we know is allowed to be eaten to help our bodies improve so I guess that’s the way of me cutting weight,” narrated Salem.
It’s only been three games for National University this Season 79, but Salem has proven that he has what it takes to have a fruitful stay in the land of the Bulldogs.