UAAP: NU holds off Adamson
National University blew a 14-point lead in the third period but managed to squeeze out enough in the stretch to hold off stubborn Adamson, 71-69, Saturday in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
NU looked headed for a cruise behind a seemingly indefatigable pressure defense but wound up needing some tenacious work off the offensive glass and two misses from the stripe from Adamson’s Ricky Peromingan with nine-tenths of a second remaining before sealing the victory.
“Actually, although we won the game but the fourth quarter, we struggled with poor execution,” said NU coach Jeff Napa. “This is a young team and we need to address that.”
The Bulldogs grabbed seven offensive rebounds in two possessions and Michael Malonzo took advantage with four straight NU points that gave his team a 48-34 edge with 4:35 to play in the third period. NU wound up with 25 offensive rebounds in the game.
But Jerom Lastimosa, benched and scoreless in the first half due to foul trouble, spearheaded a 10-0 exchange under the halfway mark of the third period as Adamson trimmed the deficit to 48-44—a run slowed only because the Falcons missed three of four free throws in that span.
Lastimosa had five straight points as Adamson took a 60-56 lead in the fourth, before the two teams turned the match into a staring contest down the stretch, trading big shots, crucial stops and the lead.
Janjan Felicilda starred for NU late in the game, hitting crucial baskets and quarterbacking a Bulldogs offense that was stymied by a neat Adamson zone that siphoned opponents into the shot-blocking Lenda Duoanga.
Felicilda scored a free throw and a drive while Johnkimwell Figueroa knocked in a 15-footer that gave NU the lead for good, 69-67, with 1:27 remaining.
“I just focused on what my coach asked me, on our process and on our game plan,” said Felicilda, who finished with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. “Whatever the defense gave us, we focused on that.”
Issa Gaye then scored on a huge tip-in that put the Bulldogs up, 71-67, under a minute left.
Lastimosa added two free throws to move Adamson to within a field goal of tying the game and the Falcons did regain possession after Douanga’s fifth block forced a hurried shot from the Bulldogs.
But Lastimosa missed a long triple and Peromingan flubbed his charities to allow NU to notch the victory.
National U’s heavy end-to-end ball pressure caused Adamson a lot of problems in the first half, forcing 12 turnovers in the first two periods alone to fuel their offense.
None of those errors were more telling than the two the Bulldogs defense forced on the Falcons toward the end of the match. After two free throws by John Lloyd Clemente, NU choked Adamson into a 24-second violation and then extracted another turnover in the dying seconds for the freebie layup that put the Bulldogs ahead at the break, 38-28.
But Adamson fought back with its own pressure defense and an offense greased by Lastimosa, who finished with 18 points, and Did Hanapi, who led the Falcons with 20 points and five rebounds.
“We have a lot of new players and we need to teach them,” Napa said. “We need to work on a lot of things. Day in and day out we want to improve in the coming games.”
Felicilda was the only NU player in double figures but Napa hopes a more settled Bulldogs will produce more heroes in the coming games.
“It just so happened that Janjan stepped up today,” Napa said. “The others, they were probably overexcited because it’s been a long time since they last played competitive basketball.”