NU fends off also-ran UE for the crucial winBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — National University drew huge baskets down the stretch for a crucial 83-74 win over University of the East Thursday in the 75th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Joshua Alolino scored four straight points before Henri Betayene secured a crucial rebound and nailed the putback in the final two minutes which gave the Bulldogs a 76-70 edge.
The victory puts NU back in the winning track and puts them a half a game behind La Salle (6-3) in the tight race for the final four.
We didn’t play well today. We struggled, the game came down to the last few minutes,” said head coach Eric Altamirano. “It’s just good for us to get this win. From now on, all of our games will be important.”
Bobby Parks Jr. doled out 21 points, six rebounds and eight assists while three other guys finished in double digits to step up in the absence of Emmanuel Mbe.
“It’s hard not to have him around. He’s the anchor of the team,” said Parks of the absence of Mbe, who had to sit out due to a hip injury he incurred in the game against University of Santo Tomas.
Betayene chipped in 11 points along with 12 rebounds and two swats for NU, who just kept within striking distance of the Red Warriors all game.
The Bulldogs posted a 15-point lead twice in the second game, but it was handily wiped away by the Red Warriors, who are under a new coach Boycie Zamar.
A 13-3 run highlighted by treys from Jhon Sumido and buckets from big man Chris Javier pulled UE to within three, 67-70, with three minutes left before Alolino salvaged NU.
The Red Warriors, who absorbed their eighth loss with just a victory, are out of contention for the final four.