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Alolino’s career-high powers National U past State U

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Having averaged just under 14 points per outing, National University team captain Gelo Alolino saved his best outing of the season for the Bulldog’s penultimate game, scoring 26 points in a 75-69 win over the University of the Philippine Fighting Maroons to take fourth place in the standings early Sunday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The men’s basketball defending champions struggled to score in the opening moments of the game as they were only able to put up two points in the first 4:05 of the game. After a UP timeout, coach Eric Altamirano brought in some offensive firepower in Alfred Aroga and Jay Alejandro. Aroga was able to score four points the rest of the first quarter but UP still had the upper hand, with Jett Manuel, Dave Moralde, and Jarrell Lim scoring to give UP an 18-13 lead to end the opening quarter.

The Bulldogs went into lockdown to start the second quarter as their defense only allowed the Diliman cagers to shoot long jumpers. NU’s defensive stance also led to easy points by Alolino and Alejandro in a 12-2 run that gave the Bulldogs a 25-20 lead. After a Jeoff Javillonar breakaway layup with 3:44 left, in-form guard Diego Dario led the Fighting Maroons to a 9-1 rally and the lead. The rally was capped by a pullup jumper by Paul Desiderio that gave UP a 31-28 lead to enter halftime.

The Fighting Maroons struggled to open the next quarter, only scoring one field goal in the first five minutes. When NU took a five point lead, 38-33, at the 6:03 mark, Med Salim baited himself to make a foul on Pio Longa, who was attempting a three-pointer. The rookie was able to covert on two free throws, while a fastbreak layup by JR Gallarza tied the game at 38-all. Reden Celda then sparked a a 9-0 run that extended the lead again, 47-38. The lead ballooned to ten to enter the final frame, 52-42.

Aroga and Alolino took over the the game in the final quarter to combine for 20 markers. The inside-outside combination of the two proved lethal as NU held a 63-53 lead with 4:20 remaining in the game. Trying to make one last push, Agu Amar led a last run for the Fighting Maroons, while conversions by Desiderio and Asilum cut the lead to just three, 63-30 with 2:38 left. After a timeout, a well-executed play by the Bulldogs let Aroga find a wide-open Alolino for a triple that extended the lead to six. This led to a 10-2 run, with all NU points coming from Alolino, capped by another booming rainbow by the NU senior that gave the Bulldogs a 73-63 lead with 29.2 remaining. Conversions by Dario to end the game came too late as the Bulldogs took the game 75-69.

“I am very happy with this win because we were able to assert ourselves,” a delighted coach Eric Altamirano said after the game. “UP was a hard nut to crack and we were tested in this game.”

Altamirano was also all praises for his captain Gelo Alolino, who notched a career-high 26 points and was able to grab ten boards in the game. “Nakalaki ng responsibility ni Gelo and he’s living up to it. We not only rely on him on scoring but also on defense. He is showing why he is our leader both on and off the court.” Alolino was 9/16 from the field and had four triples in the game.

On the other hand, Alolino stayed humble, saying that he did nothing special to prepare for this game. “Yung defense namin yung offense namin,” he said. “Mindset lang namin is gusto namin manalo at the crucial times.”

Besides Alolino, Aroga scored 15 points and was able to grab 17 huge boards. Kyle Neypes and Reden Celda added seven points each.

For the Fighting Maroons, Jett Manuel and Diego Dario both had 13 points to lead their team. However, Manuel was just 5/11 from the field while Dario was a dismal 4/11. Paul Desiderio had ten markers in the loss.

As a team, the Bulldogs shot 43.55% from the field compared to just 35.62% by the Maroons. National University also outrebounded their opponents 53-41 that negated a 20-turnover outing by the defending champions.

The National University Bulldogs (6-7), now fourth in the standings, take on the FEU Tamaraws on Saturday, November 14 at 4:00pm while the UP Fighting Maroons (3-9) face the DLSU Green Archers on Wednesday, November 11 at 4:00pm.

The Scores:
NU (75) – Alolino 26, Aroga 15, Celda 7, Neypes 7, Salim 6, Alejandro 4, Javillonar 3, Yu 3, Javelona 2, Morido 2, Abatayo 0, Diputado 0.
UP (69) – Dario 13, Manuel 13, Desiderio 10, Amar 9, Kone 6, Asilum 4, Gallarza 4, Moralde 4, Harris 2, Lim 2, Longa 2, Jaboneta 0, Juruena 0, Webb 0.
Quarterscores: 13-18, 28-31, 52-42, 75-69

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