Altamirano expects a tough game on Sunday

The Bulldogs of Coach E will rely on their defense against Ateneo. (NPPA Images)

It took a lot of courage (even though I am part of his coaching staff, it's really unusual for us to have a conversation like this) for me to ask for a  quick one-on-one with National University Bulldogs' head coach, Eric Altamirano. He is one of the coaches that I should say is calm and under control in spite of what's happening on the court.

Frederick "Eric" Altamirano or Coach E to his players and colleagues is one of the favorite names to talk about when it comes to the world of coaching collegiate basketball. He is now on his second year of duty as the chief tactician of the new formed National-U Bulldogs. His track record and reputation as a coach is not new to basketball fans and there is reason for the NU faithful to expect that he can lead his team into what could be a breakout season.

And now going on their second game in the young tournament of UAAP Season 75, his squad will face a dangerous team in the form of the four-time UAAP Champions Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles.

Coach E sees the game as being "a test of will for both teams",  a question of who has the more willpower to get the win. "Ateneo will try to impose their game. I could see them going to Slaughter a lot, and trying to score in transition. For sure they will come into this game confident."

He further explains what their opposing team might do on Sunday's main game at the newly-built Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. The former RP Youth mentor is not afraid of facing the roster of Coach Norman Black as he claims, "It is also our game, and we will make sure that we will assert ourselves into it. We will also come into the game confident and prepared." He added.

And if you are wondering what is his team's weapon for this game, I managed to ask him about it and Coach E's quick answer is "DEFENSE. We take pride in our defense."

The gold and blue squad once proved that their defensive skills can overpower the white and blue troop when they had their semi-finals meeting during the 2012 Fil-Oil Flying V Pre-season cup where the latter were eventually dethroned by the Bulldogs.

It can be a rematch for the two sought after teams of the season.  It maybe a revenge game for the Blue Eagles or a statement-making for the Bulldogs, but for now, one thing is sure for Coach E: "It is going to be a tough game".