Bulldogs score technical KO of Maroons | Inquirer Sports

Bulldogs score technical KO of Maroons

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 10:10 AM October 02, 2016
NU Head coach Eric Altamirano. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

NU Head coach Eric Altamirano. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Coach Eric Altamirano isn’t about to rush his National University Bulldogs in transforming into his ideal championship team.

In fact, he welcomes the struggle his Bulldogs have been going through simply as part of the process toward success.

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They nearly let victory slip away with another crunch time pratfall before escaping with an 80-69 win over the University of the Philippines on a crucial technical foul slapped on the Maroons Saturday in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball.

“Again, it was a grind for us and we expected that,’’ said Altamirano after the Bulldogs chalked up win No. 4 after six games. “Unfortunately, we gave up too many points, mostly from turnovers, in the second half.’’

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Luckily for the Bulldogs, Andrew Harris got a decisive technical for hurting a hard-driving Mohammad Salim on the baseline that stopped the rampaging Maroons on pulling off an upset.

Ahead by just two and with the momentum on UP’s side, the Bulldogs scored six straight points off that technical—three free throws by Matt Salem plus ball possession and a three-point play by rookie John Gallego on the ensuing play pushed them back to a safe 65-57 lead late in the fourth.

“That very crucial technical foul gave us the cushion. From that technical we were able to score six points,’’ said Altamirano. “After that, it was a good test of character for us. We regrouped and it’s good I could see some improvement in terms of finishing strong.’’

Salem had 26 points on nine of 13 field-goal shooting but the hard-working power forward gave full credit to guards Rev Diputado and Gallego for setting him up.

In contrast, the Maroons just couldn’t deliver a strong finishing kick for the second straight game and ended the seven-game first round with just a single victory to show.

Jett Manuel fired 21 points, including sinking two of this four three-pointers in the dying minutes where the Maroons tried to chase down the Bulldogs.

“You can never choose an opponent this season. All teams are capable of beating anybody,’’ said Altamirano.

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“This team (UP) is capable coming back and they’ve shown it in previous games,’’ added the former UP Maroon who was part of the team during the school’s last UAAP championship in 1986.

The Bulldogs, the 2014 titleholders, will now brace for another big challenge when they face the defending champion FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday.

“Against FEU, we have to play better than how we played today. We’re a young team and we expect some lapses to happen,’’ said Altamirano.

“It’s good that from these experiences we could learn something. When I first coached NU four years ago, we have to go through this as well. It’s a process.’’

The Scores
NU 80—Salem 26, J. Diputado 12, Gallego 12, Alejandro 7, Aroga 7, Mosqueda 5, Pate 5, Salim 4, Morido 2, Abatayo 0, Aquino 0, Diputado 0, Rangel 0, Sinclair 0.
UP 69—Manuel 21, Desiderio 11, Moralde 8, Espanola 5, Lao 4, Prado 4, Webb 4, Longa 3 Vito 3, Asilum 2, Harris 2, Jaboneta 2, Dario 0, De Liano 0 Lim 0, Romero 0.
Quarters: 12-15, 35-24, 52-46, 80-69

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TAGS: Altamirano, back, Bulldogs, Maroons
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