by Jonas Terrado
Eric Altamirano, the coach who ended National University’s (NU) 60-year title drought in 2014, tendered his resignation after failing to steer the Bulldogs to the Final Four in the ongoing tournament.
NU board representative Chito Loyzaga confirmed Altamirano’s courtesy resignation, adding that top management led by school owner Hans Sy and team manager Manny Sy is set to meet to discuss the next step.
That step is either to convince Altamirano to stay on or begin the process of searching for a new successor.
Altamirano, who has been at the helm since 2011, quit after a season that saw the Bulldogs miss the semis with a 5-9 record, marred by a six-game losing skid that came after winning four of their first six games.
“I think coach Eric wanted to give management a free hand in deciding the future of the team,” Loyzaga told the Bulletin.
Since taking over from Eric Gonzales, Altamirano guided the Bulldogs to four Final Four appearances, including the improbable title run in 2014.
That year, NU barely made the Final Four and won five do-or-die games to give the once-floundering school its first UAAP cage title since 1954, behind a team powered by Troy Rosario, Alfred Aroga, Glenn Khobuntin, and Gelo Alolino.
The Bulldogs beat the University of the East Red Warriors in a one-game duel for the last Final Four berth, overcame the twice-to-beat advantage of the Ateneo Blue Eagles before rallying from a Game 1 loss to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the finals to reach the Promised Land.
Altamirano’s stint also saw the emergence of Bobby Ray Parks as one of the country’s promising stars. Parks was a two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player from 2011 to 2012 before leaving after the 2013 season to pursue his NBA dream.