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Hot-shooting Batiller sends National U to 0-2 pit

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The defending UAAP Men’s Basketball champions, the National University Bulldogs, are still looking for their first win in the early-goings of the tournament as they fell to the hot-shooting of Bonbon Batiller and the University of the East Red Warriors, 76-71, early Saturday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Bulldogs had a tough time finding their offense in the first quarter as Edgar Charcos led the Red Warriors to an early 20-16 lead. Versatile big man RR de Leon continued the UE surge in the early-goings of the second stanza. Key NU stoppers Nico Javellona and Ed Salim provided the much-needed energy lacking for the reigning champions that helped their team in finding their bearings and regain the lead. The half closed with a buzzer beating jumper by Smart Elite ambassador Gelo Alolino that gave the Bulldogs a 37-32 lead.

Eric Altamirano’s squad extended the lead to 41-33 with 7:47 remaining in the third canto. Just as the Bulldogs were finding their groove, former Holy Trinity College Wildcat Edison Batiller torched the Bulldogs in scoring 10 points in a momentum altering 12-0 rally. The General Santos-native scored on jumpers and back-to-back three pointers. Moreover, during that span, the Warriors forced the Bulldogs to turnovers. Batiller outscored the entire Bulldogs squad in the third quarter in scoring 14 points compared to NU’s 9 as the Red Warriors took the game’s biggest lead 60-46.

The dynamic backcourt of Alolino and sophomore Rev Diputado blasted a 9-0 run to open the final frame to cut the deficit to just five. After a conversion by Renz Palma that momentarily stopped the NU rally Alolino converted on a triple that cut the lead to just a solitary point with 5:26 to go. However, the Bulldogs committed a lot of unforced turnovers that resulted to easy baskets for the UE. Javellona tried to spark one last NU rally but eventually succumbed to cramps with 52.7 to go. Late baskets by Alolino and Javellona, after resting for a few seconds, cut the lead short but eventually succumbed to UE, 76-71.

“I challenged the guys during halftime,” said Derick Pumaren after the game. “The guys showed their worth in the third quarter.” He added that their debut game against the Fighting Maroons was not the real Red Warriors he sees in practice but today they showed up.

Pumaren also commended the performance of RR De Leon who scored just eight points, but helped limit Aroga to just eight points and committing 16 turnovers. “RR played great defense on Aroga. He made him work and on offense he hit three point shots.” De Leon played a game-high 33 minutes and did not sit during the second half.

This win was special for Batiller since he just came back from General Santos to end the wake of his close cousin. He dedicated his performance to him.

Edison Batiller scored 23 points to lead the Red Warriors. He was 8/15 from the field and knocked down four triples. Edgar Charcos added 12 points while Paul Varilla had 11 markers.

For the Bulldogs, Gelo Alolino had a statline of 23 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Alfred Aroga despite having 16 rebounds, committed eight turnovers that led to the team’s demise.

The UE Red Warriors (1-1) will face the Adamson Falcons (0-2) on Wednesday, September 16 at 2:00pm while the NU Bulldogs (0-2) will look to gain their first win against the Ateneo Blue Eagles (1-1) on the same day at 4:00pm. Games will be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

UE (76) – Batiller 23, Charcos 12, Varilla 11, Abanto 9, De Leon 8, Palma 6, Sta. Ana 4, Manalang 3, Derige 0, Gagate 0, Gonzales 0, Penuela 0, Yu 0

NU (71) – Alolino 23, Javelona 16, Aroga 8, Salim 6, Diputado 5, Javillonar 5, Neypes 4, Abatayo 2, Celda 2, Alejandro 0, Morido 0, Rangel 0

Quarters: 20-16, 32-37, 60-46, 76-71

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