After a close first half, the National University Bulldogs displayed their patented hard-nosed defense that was lacking in their first three games of the season in a blowout victory, 75-54, early Wednesday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
In the first quarter, the defending champions started the game on the right note as Alfred Aroga and Mohammad Salim pounded the Adamson frontline in the paint. However, after Salim was penalized with his second personal foul, the cagers from San Marcelino were able to find their confidence behind Pape Sarr. Sarr scored five points in the quarter while Alvin Margallo, Ivan Villanueva, and William Polican helped Adamson a 19-17 lead to end the first quarter.
The Bulldogs sprinted past their opponents in the second quarter in a blistering 14-0 rally. Sophomore Rev Diputado led the charge while Gelo Alolino sustained the rally to give National U a 31-19 lead. A lackadaisical Bulldogs squad came out after a timeout by Adamson, Senior Joseph Nalos and rookie Kristian Bernardo exploited this as Nalos connected on long range bombs while Bernardo drove hard to grab fouls. Sarr capped the 9-2 run to enter halftime down by just five, 33-28.
It was a different ball game in the second half as Rden Celda and Aroga punished the Adamson zone. On defense, the Bulldogs were stingy in giving up free shots as the defending champions only gave up a single field goal in the first 4:40 of the third canto. The lead went up to as high as 14 to enter the final quarter.
The Bulldogs continued to dine on the Falcons in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back triples by lanky guard Dave Yu and a putback by Raph Tansingco extended the lead to 64-42. The lead continued to balloon as only William Polican scored for the Falcons in the final minutes of the game with the Bulldogs winning 75-54.
“It looked easy but it was a hard fought win,” coach Eric Altamirano said after the game. The slow first half of the Bulldogs gave Adamson confidence he added. “Good thing, the defense was good in the second half.” Moreover, Altamirano also praised the team’s second and third unit. “Good thing the bench stepped up, because not everytime Alfred and Gelo will have good shooting nights.”
The Bulldogs were led once more by Alfred Aroga. Aroga had a statline of 16 points, 8 boards, 4 dimes, and two steals. Smart Elite ambassador Gelo Alolino added 10 points and had 6 boards.
Ivan Villanueva was the only one who scored in double-figures for Adamson with 11 points. Sarr added 9 points and 7 boards.Smart Elite ambassador Dawn Ochea just had 6 points on 2/8 shooting.
As a team, the Bulldogs forced Adamson to 19 turnovers that led to 16 points. They were also excellent on the field in shooting 46.67% from the field compared to 32% from Adamson.
The NU Bulldogs (2-3) will next have the UP Fighting Maroons as their next assignment on Saturday, September 26 at 2:00pm while the Adamson Falcons (0-5) will have a tough task in their next outing as they face the FEU Tamaraws on Sunday, September 27 at 4:00pm.
NU (75) – Aroga 16, Alolino 10, Tansingco 10, Celda 8, Diputado 7, Javelona 6, Yu 6, Salim 5, Abatayo 3, de Castro 2, Alejandro 0, Javillonar 0, Lastimosa 0, Neypes 0, Rangel 0
AdU (54) – Villanueva 11, Sarr 9, Nalos 7, Ochea 6, Polican 6,Garcia 4, Escalambre 3, Margallo 3, Camacho 2, Ng 2, Bernardo 1, Fernandez 0, Tungcab 0
Quarterscores: 17-19, 33-28, 54-40, 75-54