Behind their unrelenting defense, the NU Bulldogs escaped the streaking UE Warriors, 51-49 to claim the fourth seed in the UAAP Men’s Basketball Final Four.
Trailing by seven heading into the fourth period, UE firecracker and veteran Point Guard, Roi Sumang, shot his team back into the game, scoring 14 of his 19 points in the final period. The Warriors were able to tie the game at 49 with 30 seconds left behind split charities from Chris Javier.
In a baseline play they’ve been trying to run all game, that UE stopped each time before, NU would manage to find an open Alfred Aroga under the basket, forcing UE to foul. Aroga would hit both free throws to give his team the slim 51-49 lead. NU would then hound Sumang on the final possession of the game, forcing the veteran to pass to an ice cold Bong Galanza, who would miss the potential game-winning trey.
In the battle of the top two defense in the UAAP in points allowed per game, NU’s stifling defensive scheme forced UE to several contested perimeter shots during the game, resulting in UE’s paltry 27% performance from the field – including five for 23 from beyond the arc. UE’s Pumaren Press also shined, forcing 35 NU turnovers; but, both teams scored as much off each other’s turnovers — UE scoring 23 points off those opportunities and NU tallying 22 points off 27 UE turnovers.
NU Captain, Glen Khobuntin came off the bench and led his team in scoring with 12 points to go with six boards. Cameroonian Big Man, Alfred Aroga, pitched in 7 points, which included his two clutch free throws at the end of the game. NU had to deal with much of their players being in foul trouble early and late in the game, with Aroga being hampered with two fouls within the first two minutes of the game and Gelo Alolino fouling out with more than half of the fourth quarter to play.
“Sa Final Four, wala nang mga advantages. You can throw all the stats away. All teams start with a clean slate,” said NU Coach Eric Altamerano about his upcoming matchup with the No.1 seed ADMU Blue Eagles. Since Bo Perasol started coaching the Blue Eagles, ADMU has not won a game against the Bulldogs.