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Alolino, Bulldogs outgun Tolomia, Tamaraws; send National U to playoffs

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Gunslingers Mike Tolomia and Gelo Alolino went toe-to-toe, with Alolino’s Bulldogs’ UAAP Season 78 campaign on the line.

In a game that changed leads eight times and had ten deadlocks, it was a clutch Alolino jumper with 33.5 seconds remaining that ended another classic NU-FEU encounter, early Saturday evening, with National University coming out on top 70-68 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

With the Bulldogs holding on to a solitary lead entering the second half, Javillonar was able to find a wide open Alolino with a three-pointer that was quickly answered by Tolomia. The Bulldogs were then able to extend their lead to five – the biggest of the game – after a fastbreak layup by Reden Celda. After an Inigo layup, coach Nash Racela called for a break and brought in senior Russel Escoto. Escoto was able to power his way to the inside for wide-open jumpers that eventually tied the game at 45-all. Alolino converted a layup but Neypes was called for a technical foul, with Belo missing the subsequent free throw. Five straight points by Cebuano hotshot Monbert Arong were answered by free throws from sophomore Rev Diputado, while a putback layup by Jay Alejandro gave NU a 51-50 lead to enter the final frame.

With both teams playing high-level defense, points were hard to find. After an initial 5-0 spurt via a Tamsi three-pointer and a Belo layup, the Bulldogs were able to find their shot from range with Javillonar and Celda converting on rainbows to tie the game at 57-all. After a back-and-forth exchange, Tolomia, who just knocked down a three that gave FEU a 65-63 lead with 3:44 remaining, was able to knockdown a stepback triple to the roar of the Tamaraw faithful. In the ensuing play however, the Tamaraws were called for a 24 second shot clock violation. Free throws by Alolino tied the game once more. A great pick-and-pop play by Inigo led to Tolomia’s third three of the quarter and a three point lead, 68-65, with 2:14 remaining. After a miss by Alolino from downtown, Celda grabbed the rebound and found a wide-open Pao Javellona for a corner three for a 68-all deadlock. Misses by Pogoy and Belo gave NU a chance to take the lead. Alolino weaved his way through the FEU defense and knocked down a pull-up jumper with 33.5 seconds remaining. After a Nash Racela timeout, Aroga empathically blocked Tolomia’s shot to the baseline. Belo then missed a jumper, followed by an Eric Altamirano timeout. An inbound by Javellona was intercepted by Pogoy with 4.2 remaining, and it gave FEU a shot to at least tie the ball game. However, Tolomia’s floater was bounced off the rim to give NU the win, 70-68.

“We knew how important this game is,” coach Eric Altamirano opened up after the game. “I would just like to give credit to the boys for their unwavering trust with each other and the system.”

Alolino, who posted a statline of 20 points on 9/14 shooting, two triples, four rebounds, and three assists, said that he is doing this for the team. “’Para sa team’ yun lang nasa isip ko. Kasi sila Alfred and Jeoff, they created for me kaya ko naipasok yun.”

Altamirano added that Alolino has the knack for making the big shots. “Even if our system is a team ball offense, when the ball is with Gelo, his teammates will make sure that he becomes open.”

“We’re always ready. Kahit saan kami pupulutin, ready kami,” a relieved Altamirano closed out the post game scrum.

Besides Alolino, Alfred Aroga notched another huge double-double with 16 points and 12 boards. Jeoff Javillonar also had a great outing in scoring nine points, 3/3 from downtown, and was able to keep Smart Elite ambassador Mac Belo quiet, limiting the usually-potent scorer to just eight points on 3/13 shooting.

Mike Tolomia led the way for the Tamaraws with 23 points on 9/14 shooting. He was 5/8 from downtown and was able to dish out three dimes. Monbert Arong added ten points.

As a team, the Bulldogs’ defense limited their opponents to just 36.99% from the field. Despite being outrebounded, 45-39, National U were able to take advantage of FEU’s nine turnovers to score ten points.

The NU Bulldogs (7-7) will have to wait for Far Eastern University’s (10-3) tilt against the La Salle Green Archers (6-7) on Wednesday, November 18 at 4:00pm. The game will be played at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:
NU (70) – Alolino 20, Aroga 16, Celda 9, Javillonar 9, Javelona 6, Diputado 4, Alejandro 2, Neypes 2, Salim 2, Abatayo 0, Morido 0.
FEU (68) – Tolomia 23, Arong 10, Escoto Ru 9, Belo 8, Pogoy 8, Tamsi 5, Esocoto Ri 2, Inigo 2, Orizu 1, Ebona 0, Holmqvist 0, Trinidad 0.
Quarterscores: 14-17, 32-31, 51-50, 70-68.

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