In night of shockers, UE stuns La Salle while NU hands UP first loss
National University (NU) pinned a stunning loss on the University of the Philippines (UP) in the preseason.
The Bulldogs proved that wasn’t just a stroke of luck on Wednesday.
University of the East (UE) was supposed to be a coffee break to help La Salle wash down a momentous, slump-stopping win over powerhouse Ateneo recently.
Not so fast.
The Bulldogs dotted the first blemish on the Fighting Maroons’ record with a spirited 80-75 win in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
That upset boosted the Red Warriors who were even more impressive in dragging the Green Archers hard to the ground with an 81-74 stunner.
“When NU won over UP in the first game, the players were inspired by the upset,” said UE coach Jack Santiago, who just days ago celebrated like “we won the championship” when the Warriors ended a 15-game slide.
UE trailed by eight when Kyle Paranada rode the upset inspiration hard and scored eight straight points to tie the game at 67, 4:17 remaining.
The Warriors turned that solo scoring spree into a 22-5 run that Paranada capped with an and-one play that made it 81-72, 34.9 seconds to play.
Paranada finished with 20 points while brother Nick added 18 as UE survived a 26-point output by La Salle hotshot Schonny Winston
‘Dreaming about this’
Meanwhile, more than handing the defending champions a stinging reality check, the pack of hungry Bulldogs proved something to themselves.
“We have been dreaming about this, to gain the respect of the other teams,’’ said playmaker Steve Nash Enriquez, who sprang back to action after missing NU’s first three assignments due to injury and hit the game-icing free throws.
It was Omar John, however, who sapped UP’s hope for a strong finish as he drilled a triple that sealed the outcome.
“I told my team that if they want to become one of the big boys, they needed to rise to the challenge and prove it,’’ said NU coach Jeff Napa. “Now that we have found our identity as a team, the next challenge is how to be consistent and it will all boil down in their desire to win.’’
In another game, Ateneo needed only a short burst out of the gates in the second half to demolish University of the Santo Tomas, 79-52, in the other match.
Forthsky Padrigao led Ateneo with 20 points.