Diputado, Javelona give NU lift in win over Ateneo
Video by INQUIRER.net’s Ryan Leagogo
MANILA, Philippines — National University banked on its guards down the stretch to beat erstwhile unbeaten Ateneo, 64-60, in the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Veteran forward Troy Rosario led the Bulldogs with a near double-double effort with 16 points and eight rebounds but the young backcourt of Paolo Javelona and Rev Diputado provided stability in the crucial stage of the game.
“I’m very proud of our boys especially our bench. Like what I said, this season the identity of our team is not relying on just one player,” said NU head coach Eric Altamirano after his squad pinned Ateneo its first loss in four games. “I think the team really showed character today (Saturday) especially when we were missing our free throws.”
“Our bench players stepped up especially Javelona and Diputado,” Altamirano, whose team tied the Blue Eagles in second place with identical 3-1 marks, commended.
The second-year guard Javelona and rookie Diputado responded to the challenge facing Ateneo’s veteran guards Kiefer Ravena and Nico Elorde.
Javelona made three out of four free throws in the final one minute and 24 seconds that extended the Bulldogs’ lead back to four, 60-56, after Diputado scored on a reverse and sank a free throw late to keep the Blue Eagles at bay.
“We felt at the end we needed to focus more on our defense, make sure we stop Kiefer and we wanna pressure the point guard. The last few minutes they did a good job at controlling the tempo,” Altamirano said on why he opted to stick with Javelona and Diputado to finish the game and keep its lead guard Gelo Alolino on the bench.
“Gelo will always be our leader. We will stick with him. We need him this season to be our leader and be our main point guard.”
Alolino didn’t finish with his usual numbers, scoring just six points on two-of-nine shooting from the field with more turnovers (2) than assists (1).
The Bulldogs’ defense limit Ravena to his lowest output in four games with 13 points on a horrible shooting night. Ravena made just three out of his 20 attempts from the field. He also misfired on all of his seven attempts from long range.
Rosario split his charities to sealed the game with 11.9 seconds to go.
“We’re very happy he (Rosario) is delivering. His rebounding and defense is really a big help to the team.”
Glenn Khobuntin added eight points and 16 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who will take on Adamson next.
Blue-chip rookie Arvin Tolentino had a game-high 17 points and team-best nine rebounds for the Eagles, who shot just 31% from the field.
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