MANILA, Philippines — National University punched a ticket to the finals of the UAAP season 76 juniors basketball tournament after an 82-81 victory over Ateneo on Friday capped its sweep of the elimination round.
The Bullpups also got a coveted thrice-to-beat advantage in the finale for its 14-0 slate — but it didn’t come easy as they had to overcome a six-point deficit in overtime to nose out the tough Blue Eaglets.
Mark Dyke gave NU an 82-79 advantage — from a 73-79 deficit — on a one-and-one play with 48.1 seconds left, and then Bulldogs pounced on the cramps-stricken Ateneo, which missed their last seven free throws.
John Cauilan led the finals-bound Bullpups with 23 points and 13 boards, Hubert Cani continued his strong play with 21 while Dyke added 18 markers and 20 huge rebounds.
Thus, second-place Ateneo, reigning titlist Far Eastern University-Diliman, and La Salle Zobel, are relegated to the step-ladder format to decide who moves on to be the Bullpups’ opponent in the finale.
Main man Thirdy Ravena scored 24 for the Blue Eaglets and collared nine boards but misfired on crucial FTs in overtime.
Those misses hurt Ateneo’s bid to spoil NU’s perfect bid as Jolo Mendoza bungled both shots from the stripe which could’ve given the Blue Eaglets the lead with 2.4 ticks remaining.
Earlier at the Blue Eagle gym, University of the East defeated University of Santo Tomas, 51-48, while University of the Philippines Integrated School pinned another loss on Adamson, 60-57, in the juniors division.