Bullpups beat Blue Eaglets again, close in on UAAP juniors title
MANILA, Philippines – Top seed National University beat defending champion Ateneo anew, 70-58, to take Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 juniors basketball Finals Monday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Bullpups drew a balanced offensive effort with six players scoring at least nine points led by Carl Tamayo’s 15 but it was on the defensive end where they really thrived.
NU coach Goldwin Monteverde said another key for his team was its poise in the second half after a slow first two quarters.
“The key is our composure. We were rushing with our execution in the first half and fortunately, we were able to recover in the second half,” said Monteverde, whose squad trailed, 30-25, at the break before outscoring the Blue Eaglets, 28-15, in the third period to turn the tide.
The Bullpups improved to 3-0 against the Blue Eagles this season after sweeping them in the elimination round. Game 2 is on Friday with NU looking for its first juniors crown since 2016.
Tamayo, who also grabbed 12 rebounds, along with Kevin Quiambao anchored NU’s defense against Ateneo’s towering big men of Kai Sotto and Geo Chiu, who struggled in the crucial stages of the game.
Quiambao finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds while also helping in containing Sotto in the second half.
The 7-foot-2 Sotto still finished with 16 points but needed 15 attempts and made only seven. He did have 15 rebounds and five blocks while Chiu had a fast start but cooled off the last two quarters to tally 12 points and 11 rebounds.
NU also clamped down guard Forthsky Padrigao, who had just four points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field with eight turnovers.
Padrigao contributed in other areas with six rebounds, eight assists and three steals but Ateneo would need him to score more if it wants to force a deciding Game 3.
The Blue Eaglets will also have to limit their turnovers after committing 21 in Game 1.