Finally, a win for UAAP’s heartbreak squad
By now, National University should have given up. Five straight losses, a bulk of which were end game heartbreakers that could have—should have, save for some cruel breaks—gone the other way pulled the Bulldogs to the far edge of Final Four contenders in UAAP Season 82’s men’s basketball tournament.
But instead of reaching for surrender, NU used its 0-5 slate as inspiration.
“I think our hunger was different coming into this game,” said skipper Shaun Ildefonso. “I told my teammates, our drive should be different for this game.”
The Bulldogs responded.
Ildefonso’s younger brother, Dave, fired 20 points as National U hammered out an emphatic drubbing of an out-of-sync Far Eastern U squad, 61-39, on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We thank God that we’re still here and we’re competing even with all the losses,” said NU coach Jamike Jarin, who brought his entire team for the postgame press conference.
“The reason why I brought these guys is because we win together and we lose together.”
The Bulldogs held the Tamaraws to just 24 points in the first three periods on their way to raising their record to 1-5.
NU’s season has been littered with heartbreak, having lost three games by the slimmest of margins and also dropping an overtime game to University of Santo Tomas.
“A win is a win and easily in our first four games, I think we deserved [to win] those games,” Shaun said.
The Bulldogs left little to chance this time as they rolled to a strong start against the cold-shooting Tamaraws.
NU neutralized the FEU offense in the first half, holding the Tamaraws to just 16-percent shooting. The Tamaraws’ woeful opening half also included 11 turnovers and zero assists.
All told, FEU shot just 19 percent from the field and finished with a season-low three assists.
“Whether you play NU or the strongest team, if you don’t show up we will get blown up,” said FEU coach Olsen Racela, whose team dropped to a 2-4 record while the Bulldogs improved to 1-5.
“I always say that there’s an immense balance of talent between the teams that’s why we need to bring our A-Game every time. If you don’t do that, nothing will happen.”
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