“Na-miss namin manalo. Wala kong masabi, ang daming pinagdaanan ng team. Buti na lang everyone stepped up,” admitted fourth-year NU guard Jay Alejandro.
The National University Bulldogs, a team eluded by victory since October 1, finally arrested their six-game losing streak, blasting the University of the East Red Warriors in the final frame to notch a 64-52 win, Saturday afternoon at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“We don’t know the significance of this win but yung importante sa amin is we got back to the win column,” NU head coach Eric Altamirano said about the win.
And this win is pivotal for the Bulldogs’ cause, as it gives them a new lease on life, going just a half a game behind fourth-seeded Adamson in the standings.
Matt Salem led the bounce-back effort with 20 points, 18 coming from distance, to go along with six rebounds. Alejandro went just 4-of-14 from the field for 10 points but was able to dish out six dimes in the game.
“They did their job. They gave us stability especially in the fourth quarter. Matt was making shots while Reggie [Morido] and Jay were creating for their teammates. It was a collective effort,” Altamirano remarked.
“We just have to do it for each other,” Salem added.
Down 46-50 after a corner triple by Alvin Pasaol with 7:40 left in the game, the Bulldogs showcased their trademark defense, a trait they seemed to have lost during their last six games. They were able to hold UE scoreless for six minutes and 26 seconds, forcing them to shoot from the outside.
“We played good defense at the start of the fourth quarter, we were able to assert ourselves, making stops,” Altamirano reflected.
On the other end, the Bulldogs suddenly went hot from the field. A top-of-the-arc three by Salem sparked a game-breaking 20-0 run. Salem knocked down two more triples during the rally, including a three with 1:23 left in the game that gave NU their biggest lead of the game, 66-50.
Alfred Aroga notched a double-double as well with 11 points and 14 rebounds to go along with two swats. Chino Mosqueda added 11 markers.
For UE, Pasaol was the only Red Warrior in double-figures with 10 points as they struggled from the field, shooting just 28 percent.
The NU Bulldogs (5-8) play their final game of the season on Sunday, November 13, facing the Adamson Soaring Falcons. The UE Red Warriors (2-10) play their penultimate game of the season as they take on the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons on the same day.
NU (64) – Salem 20, Aroga 11, Mosqueda 11, Alejandro 10, Morido 6, Rangel 4, Diputado R. 2, Yu 0, Salim 0, Diputado C. 0, Pate 0.
UE (52) – Pasaol 10, Manalang 7, Bartolome 6, Abanto 6, Varilla 5, Batiller 5, Derige 4, Charcos 3, Olayon 2, Gagate 2, Acuno 2, De Leon 0, Palma 0.
Quarterscores: 9-12, 32-32, 44-45, 64-52.