UAAP: Kean Baclaan delivers in clutch for NU Bulldogs in 'must win' game | Inquirer Sports

UAAP: Kean Baclaan delivers in clutch for NU Bulldogs in ‘must win’ game

/ 05:41 PM October 25, 2023

NU Bulldogs' Kean Baclaan in the UAAP Season 86 men's basketball tournament. –

NU Bulldogs’ Kean Baclaan in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines —Kean Baclaan came to the rescue down the stretch as National University avoided a late collapse and overcame University of the East, 64-61, extending their winning streak to five games in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

When Noy Remogat scored seven straight points to give UE a 61-57 lead with 3:28 remaining, Baclaan stressed to his teammates that they could not afford to lose this game ahead of their bigger battle on Saturday against La Salle.

“We can’t lose because if we lose, we all know what our team will hear especially from coach Jeff [Napa]. I huddled them and said: We can’t lose because we need this momentum for Saturday,” said Baclaan, who scored 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

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“At least, we prevented them from scoring in the last three possessions and we were able to make our shots.”

The sophomore guard stopped the bleeding for the Bulldogs with five straight points capped by a big three-pointer to regain the lead for NU, 62-61.

Then Baclaan’s team made big stops on their next possessions, forcing UE’s Precious Momowei to miss a crucial hook shoot, before Jake Figueroa stretched their lead to three with a perfect trip from the free throw line, 64-61, with 5.3 seconds left.

The Red Warriors had a chance to force overtime but the clock expired even before Abdul Sawat was able to release his missed three-point shot.

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Baclaan got the last laugh in his showdown with Remogat, who flirted with a quadruple-double with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and eight steals. 

NEXT MAN UP FOR NU

Kean Baclaan and the NU Bulldogs vs UE Red Warriors.

Kean Baclaan and the NU Bulldogs vs UE Red Warriors. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

But the Muntinlupa native said that his only focus was winning for his team, which lost Steve Nash Enriquez,  who hurt his jaw after he got elbowed midway through the third, as well as Jolo Manansala and Reinhard Jumamoy during the game.

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“I was frustrated because our teammates were down. I don’t know what happened to Nash’s jaw. Jolo Manansala was also down. We didn’t prepare for this season just to get injured,” Baclaan said. “We needed to step up for them because we know that we will have a bigger battle on Saturday. Evan [Nelle] watched our game and even finished it.”

With the Bulldogs keeping the league lead with a 7-1 record, coach Jeff Napa said his wards needed this kind of test ahead of their next game against the Green Archers, led by MVP frontrunner Kevin Quiambao.

“We have to go through this challenge so it will strengthen us for the obstacles that we will go through this second round. It was a hard-fought win but at least a good comeback [for the team],” Napa said in Filipino. “Credit to my players despite being down by four points, they didn’t let up. They made three crucial stops to regain our momentum. We will shift our focus on our next game against La Salle but our concern will be the health of our players. Hopefully, we will come ready on Saturday.”

Napa said that they would get Enriquez checked as the initial assessment of his injury was a broken jaw.

UE dropped its fifth straight loss, sliding to a 2-6 record before facing the University of Santo Tomas (1-6) on Saturday.

Aside from Remogat, Momowei, the leading Rookie of the Year candidate, carried the Red Warriors with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Sawat had eight points, while Jack Cruz-Dumont added seven markers and six assists.

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The scores:

NU (64) – Baclaan 18, Figueroa 12, Yu 9, Palacielo 7, Enriquez 5, Malonzo 4, Lim 3, Manansala 2, John 2, Casinillo 1, Parks 1, Delos Reyes 0, Gulapa 0, Jumamoy 0.

UE (61) – Remogat 18, Momowei 15, Sawat 8, Cruz-Dumont 7, Lingolingo 3, Galang 3, Alcantara 3, Maglupay 2, Tulabut 2, Fikes 0, Spandonis 0, Gilbuena 0, Langit 0.

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Quarterscores: 20-12, 38-30, 50-48, 64-61

TAGS: Kean Baclaan, NU Bulldogs, UAAP Season 86, UE Red Warriors

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