Men’s or women’s basketball, it doesn’t matter; NU is alone on top of the UAAP–at least for a day
For at least a day, National University (NU) is on top of the UAAP basketball world.
Bulldogs, Lady Bulldogs. It doesn’t matter. They lorded it over the field on Saturday.
For the Bulldogs, however, the reign will be fleeting. Ateneo and University of the Philippines collide on Sunday in a highly-anticipated Season 85 men’s basketball showdown at Mall of Asia Arena, with the winner sharing the early lead with NU.
But until that match tips off, the Bulldogs hold the men’s lead by themselves after a 58-54 victory over the Adamson Falcons also at the Pasay City bayside arena.
“You cannot be content with just being at solo first. You can fall at the blink of an eye, so it’s not a cause for happiness right now,’’ said NU coach Jeff Napa.
The Lady Bulldogs, on the other hand, have always been the standard in the women’s competition.
Celebrated last Wednesday for stretching a historic run of wins to 100 straight games, the Lady Bulldogs collared No. 101 on Saturday at the expense of the Lady Falcons, 100-66.
Just days after their upset of the defending champions Maroons, the Bulldogs collected their fourth win in five games, a record that will be matched by the winner of Sunday’s duel between last season’s finalists. But where the team stands now is of less concern to Napa than what needs to yet be done to make sure it doesn’t slip.
“We still need to win games. At least we escaped with this win, but we’re still not satisfied. There are a lot of things that we need to address,’’ said Napa.
One of them is rebounding where the Bulldogs struggled against the Falcons, who pulled down 48 boards compared to NU’s 40.
Making that concern more pressing is the fact that the Bulldogs will battle La Salle on Wednesday.
And the Green Archers showed just how effective they are in gobbling down missed shots, pulling down 57 rebounds—24 of them on the offensive end—in an 87-70 win over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the other game.
“We have to give more effort against La Salle apart from being mentally and physically strong against them,’’ said Napa.
Michael Malonzo gave the Bulldogs a five-point cushion with less than a minute to go before watching the Falcons botch several opportunities in a failed effort to turn everything around.
Jerom Lastimosa, who misfired his first six shots from deep, finally connected to pull Adamson within three, but John Figueroa coolly sank his free throws on the other end with 4.9 seconds that sealed the Falcons’ third defeat in five outings.
“The ball luckily came to me. I just did what I had to do,’’ said Malonzo.
John Lloyd Clemente, who also hit key shots when NU needed them, led the Bulldogs with 14 points.
The Archers, meanwhile, were cautious of another possible upset just days after dropping a shocker to University of the East (UE).
“That UE loss was a big lesson for us and as I’ve said we cannot take things lightly,’’ said La Salle coach Derrick Pumaren.
The Archers kept the Tamaraws winless this season after scorching the hoops without letup in the first half, building a 25-point spread anchored on Schonny Winston, Kevin Quiambao and Joaquin Manuel.
“We have to be prepared and be ready against any team. We’ll take it one game at a time, quarter by quarter, if that’s what we need to do,’’ said Pumaren.
The winless Tamaraws are off to their poorest start in the Final Four era.