The National University (NU) Bulldogs staved off a late College of St. Benilde (CSB) Blazers run to hang on and win with a slim advantage, 66-62, to post their second straight win in the 2015 FilOil-Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
A 13-0 run was opened up by NU in the first frame. It took a while for the Blazers to score, as NU’s defense was enough to bar CSB to buy a basket. But the Bulldogs’ D collapsed, allowing CSB to catch up and finally convert baskets down the stretch. The first quarter ended with NU up by seven, 20-13.
Midway into the second quarter, CSB forward Jonathan Grey caught fire, providing baskets for the Blazers. But the Bulldogs’ backcourt tandem of Gelo Alolino and Rodolfo Alejandro conspired to sustain NU’s momentum and preserve the lead. Rookie big man Seny Gaye helped NU defensively, swatting away two shots and grabbing seven boards before the end of the half. The first half ended with NU on top by nine, 32-23.
The perimeter defense of the Bulldogs was exposed by the Blazers as they consistently made jump shots in the third canto of the game. Romeo Nayve and Rene Sta. Maria were constantly left wide open by the NU defense. Nayve and Sta. Maria sparked a huge third quarter run for the Blazers as they outscored the Bulldogs 26-15 to gain a 49-47 lead entering the final quarter.
The two teams exchanged baskets early on in the final stanza of the game. But as the game was looking to go in favor of the Blazers, the veteran backcourt of Gelo Alolino and Jay Alejandro took over for NU. Alolino and Alejandro made huge baskets including timely three pointers down the stretch to seal the game and give NU its second win of the tournament.
“We didn’t do a good job on defense during the first three quarters,” NU head coach Eric Altamirano told the members of the press after the game. “Fortunately, we turned it on in the fourth and asserted ourselves defensively to win the game.”
Moreover, coach Altamirano praised third year guard Jay Alejandro for his consistent performance in the first two games of the tournament. “He’s doing the work during practice. He has matured. Hopefully when the UAAP season starts, he’ll be ready.”
NU team captain Gelo Alolino led the team with 19 points on 50% shooting and four assists while Jay Alejandro added 12 points including a clutch three pointer to seal the game for the Bulldogs. Rookie Seny Gaye was dominant in the paint as he grabbed 13 rebounds and collected four blocks in the game. On the other end, Jonathan Grey, still recovering from an injury, topped scored for CSB with 21 points but made crucial turnovers down the stretch. Romeo Nayve scored all 14 of his points in the second half.
As a team, the NU Bulldogs shot well from the field at 43%. Majority of their shots were in the paint and did not settle for long jumpers. However, the Blazers were able to force 21 NU turnovers to keep the game close.
The NU Bulldogs next face the EAC Generals on Friday, May 15 at 5:00pm while the CSB Blazers take a week-off. The Blazers will face the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday, May 20 at 11:45am.
NU 66 – Alolino 19, Alejandro 12, Javelona 9, Gaye 7, Salim 5, Neypes 4, Diputado 4, Abatayo 2, Celda 2, Tansingco 2
CSB 62 – Grey 21, Nayve 14, Ongteco 7, Sta. Maria 6, Saavedra 4, Jonson 3, Flores 3, Deles 2, De Sequerra 2
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