National University stayed in Final Four contention after rallying past Far Eastern University, 87-84, in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the Bulldogs’ season on the line, J-Jay Alejandro took over in the fourth quarter, where he fired 11 of his 17 points.
“This is what I was expecting from our players. Our maturity. Like what we said, we can fast track talent, but the maturity, the experience that you cannot fasttrack so I’m just happy right now because I saw the maturity today,” said NU head coach Jamike Jarin after his team improved to 5-8.
“I hope it’s not too late. I’m just very proud of all the players,” Jarin said. FEU made a run at the start and in the middle of the third, but we never bowed down and that was the maturity that we’ve always wanted.”
The Bulldogs stared at a 79-64 deficit before Alejandro and Gaye willed the team back. A 3-pointer by Alejandro gave NU the lead for good, 82-81, with 4:51 remaining.
The graduating guard, who also had six rebounds and nine assists, then, capped a 20-2 run by the Bulldogs with a layup.
Ron Dennison finally stopped the bleeding for FEU with a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game but the Tamaraws blew several cracks at the basket and had a crucial turnover off the inbound to help the Bulldogs’ case.
Arvin Tolentino misfired on a potential game-tying triple as time ran out.
The Tams squandered a golden opportunity to close in on a semifinals spot. A win would’ve gotten them at least a playoff for the fourth spot.
Tolentino and Dennison scored 21 points apiece for FEU, which fell to 6-7.